Today we got the real thing, NBA Finals, that we have waited all season, starting and while I honestly didn’t want to do any write up here, I decided to do that, since I got many thoughts here that I wanted to share.
Golden State Warriors – Cleveland Cavaliers
I’m rooting for Cleveland in this series, but logic says GSW and much easier than many predict and I will write my thoughts on both teams chances.
Why Warriors will win the series?
I will start with the easier thing, how the Warriors will win this one.
Home Court Advantage
First of all, this is a 46 – 3 record home team that has home court advantage. The chances of them losing two out of four home games are slim to none, so Cleveland will have to get that one road win, that won’t be easy and also, win all three home games, also, very hard task to do, though easier with the new (old) schedule of the games, that will have Game 5 in Oakland and Game 6 in Cleveland.
Kyrie looked decent enough in Game 4 against the Hawks and had 8 days to rest since then, so he should be even better. But still, will he be able to play the entire series in that condition? Probably not. Is this condition will be enough, even if it lasts the entire series? Probably not, especially on defense. Kyrie is a bad defender, that became almost mediocre during the season, but with his injury, he is just too slow to guard any guard and never was strong enough to defend Barnes post ups.
Defense on LeBron
Barnes and Green can play a solid defense on James and Golden State is the best team in the league in bringing help and still not leaving anyone alone. Their defensive rotations are just amazing, mostly because Green is capable to guard any position and Barnes can guard four positions (all but Center). To have both your forwards so capable on defense, really allows you to gamble much more.
On top of that, Bron shoots 17% from behind the arc, so GSW can really gamble on his shooting and just do everything to prevent him from going to the rim.
Bottom line, Warriors are healthier (even get Speights back), more talented, have home court advantage and are 56 – 0 when leading by 15+ points and team that had 67+ wins in a season, all went on and won the title.
Cleveland has a shot here and I will write now why, but Golden State very clear favorite here, at least as favorite as bookies make them out to be.
Why Cleveland wins the series:
No team have won a title, without at least one former champion on their roster, since 1991, when Jordan and Chicago won their first title. Golden State does’t have any such player.
Furthermore, looking at Golden State roster, besides Barbosa, no player have even reached Conference Finals, not to mention NBA Finals.
Cleveland has many veterans that won titles and been in the Finals. LeBron obviously (6th Finals and 5th in a row), James Jones, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, Kendrick Perkins – all by Marion been to multiple Finals.
Even though most aren’t part of the rotation, the mere presence on the bench, can help a lot.
Perkins said about him and his team, that in the Finals, they all get butterflies in their stomachs and that they know what to do and handle the pressure.
You can’t say the same about the Warriors.
To have 7 days off and to play in the Finals, in front of your home crowd, knowing that you on a verge of something amazing – this is a spot every player wants to be in, but it’s not an easy spot.
LeBron and the Heat were in the NBA Finals, both in 2011 and 2012, facing Dallas and Oklahoma. They lost to Dallas and beat Oklahoma.
Oklahoma in 2012 season, were better team than Dallas in 2011 season.
Heat stayed more or less the same. So what was the difference?
Dallas were a bunch of experienced veterans, while Oklahoma had a bunch of young kids, making their first NBA Finals appearance and it looked accordingly.
The moment they lost that Game 2 at home and more important, after losing Game 3, something came apart and it was clear they will lose both Games 4 & 5.
This can happen again to the less experienced team.
Best player in the world
Bottom line, in every game, you want to have the best player on court on your team. Obviously it matters (and a lot) who is playing next to him and it can be claimed that Golden State have the best 2nd, 3rd and 4th players on the court, but having best player in the world, in the best form of his career (according to him), sure helps.
Bron can defend, can score, can rebound, can block, can pass, can steal – he can do everything, guard any position and came back to Cleveland for many reasons, but one of the most important ones (to him) – bringing NBA title to this very unlucky (sports wise) city and state.
LeBron been known to have foul trouble himself, from time to time, but it’s very very very rare situation, especially in the playoffs.
Green and Bogut on the other hand? Not so much. With Barnes and Green guarding LeBron, you can almost count on one of them to be in foul trouble in almost every game and Bogut is foul prone since always.
With all the respect to Curry and he is obviously the MVP and the best player on the team and maybe the best shooter to ever play the game, numbers wise, GSW hurts the most, when Green is out.
Green is the second best player on the team and basically, the moment Green/ Barnes are out, it becomes easier to hide Kyrie on defense, it allows Blatt to play big with Mozgov. Life will seem much better for Cleveland, when Green is out and even when Iggy replaces Barnes (who is having amazing playoffs).
The only team that had advantage in the series against Warriors this season and extended the series to 6 games against the Warriors, was Memphis.
Cleveland and Blatt need to look really close at the video tapes of those games and play accordingly. Get in to passing lanes, drive Klay’s and Steph’s shooting percentage down, force GSW to find the solutions, instead of chasing them, trying to find solutions yourself.
GSW found solution in that series + Tony Allen got hurt and we will never know what would have happened, had he stayed healthy (probably GSW would have still won the series, just not as easily).
Cleveland have the blueprints, but it’s still not easy to turn them in to a win in this series. So many things can go wrong for them.
GSW also have the blueprints, but they are so much easier. This is their series to lose. Cleveland will have to step up to have a shot here, but even if Cleveland steps up, if Golden State play at their normal level, Cleveland won’t stand a chance here.
I want to write GSW in 5 games, but I won’t.
Cleveland reached their peak at the right time, playing their best level of game in the most important moment of the season.
GSW are a great team, but they shown few things against Pelicans, Grizzlies and Rockets, that Cleveland can exploit.
LeBron knows that this is his chance to become even greater than he already is and this team has so much experience, that I prefer not to make any bets on the series before it starts, but rather watch Game 1 and try to analyze the series after that again.
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Best of luck everybody!!!