Cavaliers in 6
Here we go again same match up from last year. The Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games last June holding off a great individual performance from LeBron James who was carrying an injury riddled Cavaliers team, as he averaged 35.8 points per game.
The Golden State Warriors came out of the gates running after winning the NBA Championship as they started 24-0 and never looked back, posting the greatest regular season in NBA history at 73-9. A big key to the Warriors success was Stephen Curry who won his second consecutive MVP award, leading the NBA in scoring with 30.1 ppg. Curry also made an incredible 402 three point shots, breaking his own record by more than 100 baskets. The Warriors also had big seasons from Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Harrison Barnes, while Andre Iguodala last year’s Finals MVP has provided leadership off the bench.
The Cleveland Cavaliers meanwhile were once again led by LeBron James with a team best 25.3 points per game. Kyrie Irving meanwhile recovering from the knee injury he suffered at the start of last year’s NBA Finals finished the season strong, with 19.6 ppg, after missing most of the first half of the season. The Cavs season was not without its turmoil as David Blatt was fired on January 22nd despite a 30-11. The firing came just a few days after the Cavaliers suffered a humiliating 132-98 home loss to the Warriors. Tyronn Lue led the Cavs the remainder of the season as they finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 57-25.
In the playoffs the Cavaliers have been nothing short of machine like, rolling off wins in their first ten games as they easily swept the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers tasted defeat twice, losing the middle two road games against the Toronto Raptors. Returning home for Game 5, the Cavaliers responded with a 116-78 win that took the life out of Toronto. The Cavs would win the series in six games, closing out Toronto with a 113-87 win.
The Warriors path to the NBA Finals was much tougher as they had to play most of the first two rounds without their MVP Stephen Curry who has hobbled through ankle and knee injuries as Golden State needed five games to beat the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers. In the Western Conference Finals Curry returned but was clearly not 100% as OKC took a 3-1 lead. Stephen Curry appeared to be finding his range in the final three games as the Warriors rallied to take the series in seven games.
In a twist from last year, it is the Warriors who are not 100% heading into this year’s NBA Finals. The Cavaliers on the other hand could not be healthier and could not be playing better. They have reached the NBA Finals without LeBron James needing to carry the team. LeBron has had a solid postseason with 25.3 points per game, but he has not been needed to be great as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have both also had terrific postseasons. The NBA Finals is where LeBron James will need to be great and thanks to the Cavs low energy workout in the first three rounds, he should be fresh and prepared to take over. The only reason the Warriors beat the Cavaliers last year was due to Cleveland running out of man power due to the loss of Irving and Love. Both are healthy and playing well, and LeBron wanting this title more than any other he has won and I sense we are about to see another breakout NBA Finals from King James this time it will be in victory as the Cavaliers who come in healthier take advantage of the slower Stephen Curry and win the series in six games.