The time has come to make my prediction for the NBA Finals. For a long time I was going with the Warriors. They were the best regular season team, they have the MVP, and they were the best defensive and offensive team this season. With all that said I decided to go with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. I have the Cavs winning in 6.
I believe the Cavaliers are playing better basketball at the right time. If we look at the numbers, Cleveland has played 14 games this postseason and Golden State has played 15. The Cavs are shooting 35% from 3 and the Warriors are at 38%. Golden State averages 104.3 ppg and the Cavaliers are at 101.4 ppg. On the defensive side of the ball Cleveland has been the best defensive team in the playoffs. They only give up 92.6 ppg while the Warriors give up 96.3 ppg.
The biggest concern for the Warriors comes in the form of turnovers. They only played one more game than the Cavaliers but Golden State has 229 turnovers while Cleveland has 172 turnovers.
Despite beating the Rockets in five games the Warriors were only great in game 3. The Rockets had chances in games 1 and 2. In game 5 with a horrible James Harden the Rockets still stuck around. The Warriors should have blown the Rockets out easily with the performance that Harden had.
Steph Curry was amazing in the first three games, scoring over 30 in every game while hitting at least 5 three pointers. He had the scary fall in game four and his shot was off. In game five he made plays late in the game but he only shot 7-21 from the field. He was under 40% in the last two games of the series.
Houston had the firepower to keep up with the Warriors but just faltered late in the game. Cleveland has enough firepower to keep up with the Warriors as well. At times the Warriors can fall asleep and allow teams to get big leads. They did that in game one against the Rockets and again in game four.
LeBron James took over against Atlanta but his teammates had very good games. In game one J.R. Smith knocked down 8 three pointers. In game 2 Tristan Thompson grabbed 16 rebounds while Matthew Dellavedova started in place of Kyrie Irving and scored 11 points. J.R. Smith quietly had a double-double in game 3 and Tristan Thompson grabbed the most important offensive rebound which allowed LeBron James to knock down the go ahead three pointer. J.R. had another double-double in game 4 and Kyrie Irving returned to score 16 points.
The best matchup will be a healthy Kyrie Irving vs Steph Curry. Kyrie might not be a 100% but he has to attack Steph over whoever is guarding him. He couldn’t move in game 1 against the Hawks and only played 27 mins. In game 4 he was able to make quick cuts and get into the lane. We know what Curry can do already. I doubt Kyrie guards him for long stretches. Both guards have to be in attack mode, creating their own offense and setting teammates up.
An intriguing matchup will be Tristan Thompson vs Draymond Green. These are the energy guys who crash the boards. Tristan had 17 offensive rebounds in the Eastern Conference Finals and Draymond had 15 offensive rebounds in the Western Conference Finals. Draymond had more rebounds overall because the Rockets played at a higher pace than the Hawks. Tristan does a good job of drawing fouls while he rebounds and Draymond can grab a board and lead a break. Draymond did lead the Warriors in turnovers during the WCF so he can’t be careless with the ball. Tristan has to protect the paint and continue to fight for offensive rebounds.
The most important matchup will be LeBron James vs the Warriors defense. Golden State has a lot of bodies to throw at LeBron. They showed that against James Harden. Will the primary defender be Harrison Barnes? We know Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green will get a shot at LeBron. I’ve also seen Shaun Livingston guard LeBron because he’s tall.
LeBron controlled the series against the Hawks and he will have to do the same thing against the Warriors. If they don’t double him he should go into the post early and often. He can’t try to break out of his shooting slump in this series. He has to force the Warriors to double him so he can find his teammates.
The X-factor for the Cavs is Iman Shumpert. He was 9-21 from the three point line during the Eastern Conference Finals. He was able to chase around Kyle Korver for a couple of games and he played solid defense overall. Will he be able to play good defense against Klay Thompson and Steph Curry while still knocking down shots on the other end?
The X-factor for the Warriors is Harrison Barnes. In the last two games against the Rockets he scored a combined 38 points. He saved them in game five by going on a personal 9 point run and extended the Warriors league to 15 points. However can he play good defense against LeBron James and still score the ball efficiently? Jimmy Butler and DeMarre Carroll were primary defenders on LeBron and their offensive efficiency went down.
These teams only met twice in the regular season and LeBron only played in one game. The Cavs are playing great defense but the Warriors can really move the ball. The Warriors have the MVP and the Cavs have an MVP. The Warriors are the favorites but LeBron is still great. I just hope it’s a great Finals.