Movie quote of the day:
“I know who I am! I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude!”
Kirk Lazarus, “Tropic Thunder” (2008)
Two months have passed and it is finally time for the NBA finals (seriously, the NBA postseason needs to be shortened). For back-to-back years, Cleveland and Golden State will meet in the championship. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in six games last year to win their first title since 1975. For the record, I don’t like when any championship features the same teams from the previous season. I like to see new teams play for it all.
Let’s start with the Cavaliers. After many considered them dysfunctional (including myself) before the playoffs started, they have since turned it on and have been playing their best basketball. Cleveland has cruised through the mediocre Eastern Conference – with a record of 12-2 – to get LeBron James to his sixth-consecutive NBA finals appearance. James and Kyrie Irving have been the driving force for the Cavaliers, averaging 48.6 points between them. Cleveland has been shooting close to 48 percent (42.9 percent from 3) and averaging 107 points. Meanwhile, its defense has been superb allowing teams to shoot just 45.1 percent (32.8 percent from 3), and giving up an average of 94 points per game.
Golden State had its back against the wall after trailing in the series 3-1 to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors battled back to win three games in a row for a chance to keep defending their title. As usual, the “Splash Brothers” have led the Warriors throughout the postseason, scoring close to 53 points between them. Klay Thompson was en fuego in the last two games against the Thunder, shooting 57.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line. The entire Warriors’ offense has been on a roll this postseason, shooting 46.4 percent from the field and averaging 110 points per game.
The Warriors live and die by the 3-point shot but Cleveland is one of the league’s best 3-point defenses this postseason. However, Golden State is the better rebounding team. Even if the Warriors struggle shooting, they have a good chance of getting the rebound and creating second-chance opportunities. One of the biggest myths about Golden State is that they don’t play defense. In fact, Golden State was the No. 4 team in the league in defensive efficiency during the regular season. It’s hard to pick against the Warriors. They have the better coach and home-court advantage. Cleveland does have the edge in length, and it has had more time to rest before this series. The Warriors have faced plenty of adversity this postseason, whereas Cleveland has had the easier road. I expect Golden State’s momentum to carry over to the Finals after being down 3-1 in the series against Oklahoma City.
Prediction: Warriors in six.
Finals MVP prediction: SG Klay Thompson