The 2015 NBA Finals stage was set last week as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors advanced with relative easy against their conference finals opponents. The Cavaliers swept a bruised up Atlanta Hawks team missing all-star sharpshooter Kyle Korver for most of the series. On the west side of the bracket, the Warriors brushed aside a Houston Rockets team that started out the series valiantly, losing two close games on the road. The series ended up going 5 games total. Now these two juggernauts will tip off this Thursday, June 4th on ABC at 9PM with Golden State having home court advantage in the series.
The marquee to this series will mostly focus on this year’s MVP, Stephen Curry, taking on the player that most people consider to be the best on the planet, LeBron James. However, there are plenty of other nuggets and story lines to go along with this one.
Let’s start with history and King James continues to make it. LeBron will be in the NBA Finals for the 5th straight year (first player since 1966) and Cleveland makes its first return since 2007. Golden State last made it to this grand stage back in 1975 where they ultimately took home the championship. Cleveland has never taken home the NBA crown. This also will be the first NBA Finals where two rookie head coaches face off with David Blatt and Steve Kerr at the helms.
No doubt, another topic of conversation has to be injuries. The second best players on each squad both have been battling injuries entering this series. Golden State’s Klay Thompson still has not been cleared for Thursday’s game 1 after suffering a concussion in their series clinching win against the Rockets. Cleveland’s second superstar, Kyrie Irving, has been playing less than 100% for practically all of the playoffs while dealing with knee issues. The Cavs also continue to be without the services of Kevin Love. His lethal shooting and addition of depth would have come in handy. This might be the series where that loss truly hurts them.
So, what will make the difference in this series? What will decide this thing? Let me detail how each team could pull off a victory in this series.
Why the Golden State Warriors will win:
The key to a Warriors victory in this series will be versatility. They can shuffle in several lineups that cause matchup problems for the Cavs. The Cavs can’t compete with their depth. If the Warriors are successful with a small lineup it takes the huge rebounding advantage Cleveland has out of play. The versatility will become even more valuable in defending James. They have several players to throw at the King: Klay, Barnes, Green, and Iguodala. The litany of defenders can slow down LeBron and doom Cleveland. Offensively, Golden State just has a myriad of shooting weapons mixed with a well orchestrated offensive system. They have picked apart team after team this year. Their explosiveness on offense also means that they will never be out of game in this Finals even if the Cavs get off to a hot start. Just ask New Orleans.
Why the Cleveland Cavaliers will win:
The best thing that the Cavs on their side is the world’s best player. LeBron James has the experience of two NBA championships and a drive that is unstoppable by any of the Warriors players. That alone isn’t the only thing they have going for them at this point though. A rejuvenated and rested Kyrie Irving could provide a one-two punch that out duels the Splash Brothers. Role players like J.R. Smith, Shumpert, and Mozgov have been key since being acquired mid-season. The Knicks’ castaways add some great defense to slow down the ultra efficient offense of Golden State and spread the floor with their potent outside shooting. Even when this team misses, Tristan Thompson is relentless on the offensive boards. His motor won’t be stalled by an undersized Draymond Green.
Depth, versatility, and an overall better team wins the day as the championship continues to elude Cleveland. Maybe next year guys.
Golden State wins the NBA championship 4-2
Who do you have winning this year’s NBA Finals? What do you think will be the key to the series?