The NBA Finals start tonight as the Warriors look for a repeat championship, while LeBron looks to bring his hometown of Cleveland a championship. There are many storylines, match-ups, and players to look for in this series.
- Can the Warriors repeat and cap off the greatest season of all-time with a ring?
This has been a hot topic after the Warriors beat the 1996 Bulls record of 72-10 by going 73-9. The thing that most analysts are wondering is can these Warriors win a title and actually own the title of best season ever. I think that this Warriors’ team isn’t the best ever, that still belong to the 96 Bulls, because they had a easy schedule and they play in a soft generation of the sport. First NBA now-a-days is soft and honestly terrible, it’s not just the players but also the refs, almost every game that I watch it seems like there is a ricky-tack foul that would not have been called 15 years ago. Little things such as swiping at a guy and not making contact or even trying to box out or stop a guy from driving, its annoying and gives more reason to shoot from three point range. The other point about them playing a soft schedule is true because they played a lot of the eastern conference and lower level (lottery) teams in the West but yet the Cav’s “have it easy playing in the East”.
2. Can Curry overtake LeBron for the title of “Best current player” and Jordan as the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.)?
Ok first off lets slow your roll of Curry is the greatest player ever talk, maybe greatest shooter, but not greatest player. Let’s see how good he is a few years from now when he has more than just 2 good seasons under his belt. Also, lets slow the roll of him being the face of the “New NBA”, I do not see the NBA ever going to a pure three point shooting game like what Curry has and if/when it does change, it will get stale and change back to the Jordan era game style. Unless Curry has more than 2 good seasons in him lets not say he is the greatest, Jordan has 6 rings… 6… Curry has 1, LeBron has 2, both also have at least 1 Finals MVP, Curry doesn’t even have 1.
3. Which non-star player steps up the most?
Last year it was Andre Iguodala, who stepped up and helped the Warriors win the title and himself win Finals MVP. Who will it be this year? Harrison Barnes possibly stepping up to slow down LeBron or Channing Frye who are some of the most clutch and highest scoring payers on the Cavs. How about Frye on the Cavs side, just coming in and hitting threes and locking down on defense? No matter who it is, it will be needed because these stars cant carry their teams solely because everyone gets tired and can not perform at their highest level game in, game out.
LeBron vs. Draymond Green
Draymond is super athletic and the perfect LeBron stopper, just like Kawhi Leonard from 2 years ago. Like Leonard was Draymond is a fast, athletic player who can also shoot on the offensive side and lock down LeBron on the other. As long as Draymond doesn’t kick LeBron in the man-zone this match-up will be fun to watch, the best player in the world against the choppiest and most aggressive player.
Kyrie Irving and bigs vs. Curry pick and rolls
Kyrie is having a great playoffs as he is lighting it up from three and distributing at a high pace. Kyrie can also defend at a average level and will not be beat by Steph’s quickness but will have trouble coming off of screens and defending the three. If the Cavs switch they will be provide two different mismatches for the Warriors with a big being on Curry and Kyrie on a big. Either option should provide points for the Warriors, to prevent this the Cavs need to hedge Curry with the big defender while Irving recovers and have good rotation down low. The Cavs are hopeful that the height of the big on Curry will prevent him from seeing the open roll guy and let Irving get back on Curry.
Outside of LeBron, Curry, Draymond and Irving here are two players for each team to watch.
Warriors: Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut
Thompson is shooting very well from deep in the last two playoff series as he now holds the record for threes in a playoff game at 11, he did that twice last series. That is all that needs to be said about Thompson, if Curry is having a off day or just getting defended perfectly by the Cavs’, Thompson needs to step up and hit some threes for them. Andrew Bogut is a interesting choice here but to me is warranted, what if the Cavs’ come out and shut down there three or the Warriors are just shooting bad one game? Do they keep trying or change the strategy and attack a smaller Tristan Thompson with a more skilled Bogut? I would do the latter because then the Cavs’ defense would collapse onto Bogut when he is fed the ball and open up more shooting opportunities for Thompson and Curry.
Cavaliers: Kevin Love and J.R. Smith
Iman Shumpert can also be substituted for Love solely because he has the defensive ability to shut down both Curry and Thompson. Love is the key cog of the Cleveland Big 3 as was shown in Games 3 and 4 in Toronto where both he and Kyrie didn’t play well and the team lost big. If that isn’t a indication of how much they need him to play well I am not sure what is. As for J.R. it is well known that he is one of the most streaky shooters ever, he can be as hot as Curry for one quarter then miss 10 threes in a row the next. If he is on the Cavs’ can keep pace with the Warriors bench and even shorten the lead in some cases. He also is valuable at the Small Forward against the “Death Lineup” of the Warriors where he can guard Barnes with ease and shoot even better than he can.
As always whoever wins will have won it fair and square because they will face off as two fully healthy teams, which was all we asked for last year and didn’t happen. Also remember whoever wins their star, Curry or James, will hold the crown of G.O.A.T. for at least another season.