NBA Finals Preview: Are You Picking the Cavs or Warriors?
The Cleveland Cavaliers begin the NBA Finals tonight against the Golden State Warriors.
The Cavs and Warriors tip-off on ABC at 8 p.m. CDT, in Golden State.
It's the first time Cleveland is in the Finals since 2007, while Golden State makes their first appearance since 1975.
The Warriors are led by current MVP, Steph Curry. Curry enjoyed a monster season. Only Riley Curry, his daughter has probably topped it with her adorable press conferences with Steph. Curry averaged 23.8 points and 7.7 assists per game during the regular season. He was a 48.7 percent field goal shooter and 44.3 percent three-point shooter. During the postseason so far, he's averaging 29.2 points and 6.4 assists per game. He's shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from long range. Curry made a ridiculous game-winning shot against the New Orleans Pelicans. In the Western Conference Finals, he out-dueled James Harden and put on a shooting clinic. Most notably, in Game 3 against the Rockets, Curry dropped 40 points, seven assists and rebounds. In that game, he was seven of nine from the field and an absurd nine of 10 from beyond the three-point line.
Meanwhile, LeBron James is the king again in Cleveland. He guided the Cavs back to the NBA Finals after winning two rings on South Beach, in Miami. He's a former MVP. In the Eastern Conference playoffs, he's had to put the Cavs on his back after Kevin Love went down with an injury and Kyrie Irving wasn't fully healthy. James is averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game this postseason for Cleveland. In the Cavs' Game three win over Atlanta, James played through an injury and led Cleveland to a 114-111 overtime win. James scored 37 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out 13 assists in 47 minutes of action against the Hawks.
So, it's Curry vs. LeBron. What will Chef Curry have on his menu or type of royal performance will King James have in store for the Finals?
Here are three storylines to watch in the Finals:
1. How healthy are Curry and James' sidekicks?
Thompson was concussed during the Western Conference finals. But he's been cleared. That's good news because the Warriors will need Curry and Thompson to splash in a lot of buckets if they want to have a shot a winning the NBA title. Meanwhile, Irving has said, 'I'm just going to will myself to play.' So it doesn't sound like Irving is fully healthy. Hopefully, the Cavs can get at least 20 good minutes out of Irving. (He played 22 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference finals).
2. Can the Cavs lock down the Warriors shooters?
The Cavs ranked 20th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. In the postseason, they rank third. So they have flipped the switch once the playoffs have started. (Cleveland gave up 92.6 points per game to opponents during the Eastern Conference playoffs). And that's what championship caliber teams do. Timofey Mozgov's rim protecting duties have been underrated and Iman Shumpert is a quality defender. Meanwhile, the Warriors averaged 108.6 points per game during the Western Conference finals. So can Cleveland find a way to slow down Golden State's hot shooters for one more series in order to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy?
3. Which first-time head coach will guide their team to an NBA title?
The Finals have two new coaches. The Cavs have David Blatt and the Warriors have Steve Kerr.
Prediction: Warriors in six.
Why? I think the Warriors are a much more complete team. Irving isn't fully healthy and that means LeBron is going to have to carry the load. And he's not afraid to. I just think Golden State's supporting cast will be too much for the Cavs to handle.
What do you think? Will it be a golden ending for the Warriors or will LeBron finally win a ring for his hometown team in Cleveland?