OAKLAND — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will start the 2016 NBA Finals at Golden State.
The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in six games in the 2015 NBA Finals, but that was against a severely depleted Cleveland team. Power forward Kevin Love was injured after a controversial attempt for a rebound by Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk. He pulled Love’s shoulder in what many consider to be a dirty, deliberate move. Cavaliers star point guard Kyrie Irving was already dealing with an injury that worsened right before the conclusion of the game 1 loss to the Warriors.
In the span of less than a month, the Cavaliers went from being the “Big Three” to a marginally less effective team.
Now the defending NBA champions face their opponent at full strength. The Warriors broke the Chicago Bulls record of 72 regular season wins this season. Golden State plowed through the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers.
The Warriors overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games in the Western Conference Finals. Are the stars lining up for Golden State to win their second consecutive NBA title?
The weakness of using regular season accomplishments in playoff debates: As fans argue and debate who will win this time, it is important to completely throw out regular season accomplishments. NBA fans can laugh at this notion rather easily. Why discount the 73-win season? This is why Golden State is the number one seed. The Warriors broke a seemingly unbreakable record. Why not consider Golden State the clear cut favorite?
Why aren’t the Toronto Raptors facing the Warriors?
They won two of the three games against Cleveland. They were only one game behind Cleveland in the final standings but won the season series. That is the tough part about using regular season accomplishments as a part of predicting winners in each round.
There may a counter-argument to basing predictions in part due to what happened in the season.
Matthew Dellavadova: How the unsung hero will be used against Draymond Green? Matthew Dellavadova is known for his feisty defense. Many fans actually consider him a dirty player.
However, Warriors forward Draymond Green is this decade’s Rasheed Wallace. He is often more aggressive than other players on defense and can easily rack up flagrant and technical fouls. Everyone can expect Cavaliers head coach Tyrone Lue to conjure up a genius strategy to use Dellavadova to help double team Green. Dellevadova may annoy Green to the point where he starts to lose his cool. Will Green ignore Dellevodava and just keep playing mentally sound basketball?
The War of Three Pointers: The Cavaliers are not a three point shooting team by design.
As James said, it is just part of their strategy of balanced offense to employ the use of a three pointer barrage. Warriors guard Stephen Curry is the NBA’s best three-point shooter. However, the Cavaliers have an arsenal of hot shooters in Irving, Love, Dellevadova, J.R. Smith, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson. The could be an exciting chess match between the offenses.
Defense wins championships: The old cliché defense wins championships is still true.
During their 12-2 playoff run, the Cavaliers held their opponents to under 100 points in almost every game. With that in mind, Cleveland’s defense will be tested against Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodola out on the perimeter and in their deadly high-pick and roll game down low.
If Cleveland is to win, they need to extend their defense out to the thtrr-point line and drive Golden State’s shooters off of it and force them inside. Cleveland must also maximize their possessions and make their shots, whenever Golden State misses and goes cold.
Prediction: The Warriors seem like the clear cut favorite. According to ESPN’s power index, Golden State has a 75 % chance to win. However, the Cavaliers are healthy and just look way too hot to trot. This could be the best NBA Finals of all time.
Game 1: Cleveland 109 Golden State 107
Game 2: Golden State 113 Cleveland 101
Game 3: Cleveland 113 Golden State 107
Game 4: Cleveland 95 Golden State 91
Game 5: Golden State 117 Cleveland 105
Game 6: Golden State 123 Cleveland 110, OT
Game 7: Cleveland 134 Golden State 127, Double OT