Two rookie coaches in Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and David Blatt of the Cleveland Cavaliers will be dueling it out in the NBA Finals this year. Many people wanted to see this outcome develop, and those fans got their wish as they look forward to a competitive and entertaining series. Both teams stand pretty evenly matched, but the winner will stand tall depending on who executes during crunch time.
Cavaliers forward Lebron James is heading to his fifth consecutive NBA Finals and is seeking his third NBA championship. He promised his hometown of Akron, Ohio that he would bring it an NBA Championship when he reunited with Cleveland back in August last year. The town of Cleveland has faced an elongated drought of championship teams. They have not won a championship since 1964 when the Cleveland Browns did it. Since then, Cleveland has earned its reputation of being a cursed city. The Cleveland Cavaliers have never won an NBA championship in franchise history.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry was crowned MVP this season and is attempting to also bring home the gold back to Oakland. The Warriors also face a long duration without winning a championship. The last time they did was in 1975 and Stephen Curry was not even born yet. Also, the Warriors have an advantage with home court, and Cleveland does not have their All-Star power forward Kevin Love, who has been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs with a dislocated shoulder. He was diagnosed in the first round against the Boston Celtics.
This presumed grind-out battle is going to have all eyes on Lebron James and Stephen Curry as they have racked up the points this postseason. Curry is averaging 29.2 points per game while James averages 27.6 points per game. Both superstars lead their team in scoring and assists. The viewers at their homes along with the thousands in attendance at Quicken Loans in Cleveland or Oracle Arena in Oakland have conceivably high expectations for each of their teams.
The only issue that Golden State may face is who will guard James and Tristan Thompson. Thompson has really centralized his game as being a workhorse and filling in for Kevin Love with racking up the numbers in rebounds with 9.9 per game this postseason. Love averaged seven rebounds per game but only played four games in the postseason. The Warriors may lean on their runner-up defensive player of the year Draymond Green, who has contributed to the team in a variety of ways with his impeccable defense, rebounding, passing and scoring. Green has been averaging more rebounds than Thompson and James with 10.8, and the Warriors absolutely love to crash the boards. It’s something they do very well with efficiency and consistency.
The advantage for Cleveland is that they have a dynamite show-stopping point guard in Kyrie Irving who can make defenders look foolish sometimes. On the other hand, Curry could have had an early bloom in his career if he did not suffer multiple ankle injuries. He needs to be careful when guarding Irving because all it takes is one quick hesitation or killer crossover, and the chances of Curry getting injured are moderate. But, nothing is guaranteed. Both teams have played tremendous defense this postseason. Between both teams, they gave up 94 points per game. Cleveland gives up 92.6 while Golden State allows 96.3.
Cleveland also has had remarkable offensive help from guards Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, who were both acquired from the Knicks late in the regular season. Both players have played productive basketball by averaging double-figure points this postseason. Shumpert is also a key threat with his defensive play and hounds ball-handlers and scorers. Look for Cleveland’s head coach, David Blatt, to put him on Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. Thompson is averaging 19.7 points per game this postseason.
The series is going to be neck and neck, but the key factor is limiting mistakes. Mistakes like turnovers, technical fouls, and possible ejections are critical during any playoff series, especially the NBA Finals. James is an exceptional player, but sometimes he attempts to do too much and turns the ball over sloppily. Same goes for Curry, he is an entertainer and a wizard with the basketball who is prone to making spectacular plays with his passing and shot selection. He needs to be smart in those regards.
My prediction is the Golden State Warriors win the NBA Finals in a dramatic seven games. They are the hotter team with more team chemistry and morale with “Roaracle Arena” making rambunctious noise for their beloved Warriors. I feel this is their year, and spectators want to see Curry win his first NBA title along with earning his first MVP award. As for Cleveland, I feel the curse of not winning a championship remains unbroken.