NBA Finals Preview by Card44
Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavs
The big news on the defending champs is their 73-9 regular season record that they chased all year as the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champs. But they just struggled against the Thunder, and Cleveland provides some similar matchup problems for the Warriors. What surprised me was how much success OKC had when playing small ball, which is what has made the Warriors tick under Steve Kerr.
What the Warriors need to is exploit Cleveland’s weakness on the interior. Kevin Love couldn’t cover himself with a blanket and Tristan Thompson can’t do anything on the offensive side of the ball besides rebound. While Curry is obviously the big name, Klay Thompson is a headache to cover and is going to give JR Smith and Iman Shumpert hell because of his off ball movement.
Golden State had their way with the Cavs in the regular season, but playoff basketball is a whole different ball game. Don’t forget that Cleveland took them to 6 games last year without Kyrie and Love, Golden State certainly doesn’t forget about that.
Iguodala was a major key player in Golden State’s title last year. Iguodala won the finals MVP last year and will be a key again this year, because he gets the tough task of being the main guy guarding Lebron James. He stepped up as a scorer last year in the finals and they will need him to have an impact as well again, but his defense will be the most important skill he provides.
Everyone has expected the Cavs to be back here again this year as soon as they lost last year. Lebron has been in the finals every year since 2010, and there really isn’t anyone in the east that looks capable of stopping that anytime soon. What people didn’t expect is it to be under Ty Lue instead of David Blatt. However, Lue has this team clicking and healthy this year. They seemed better prepared and a tougher matchup for the Warriors this year. This team feels they can win this year and should have last year, but injuries prevented them that chance last year.
For the Cavs to win this year they may need to go small and they have the capability to do that with Lebron playing the 4. The problem may be their lack of a rim protector anywhere near as intimidating as Mozgov was last year. Well, they do have him still on the bench, but we won’t be seeing any playing time unless it’s in garbage time. Thompson is a good defensive player, however he lacks size, and Channing Frye and Kevin Love aren’t exactly known for their defensive ability. Kyrie has been a bade defensive player as well, but he has the athletic ability to play defense and needs to step up.
Cleveland needs to keep playing their game and not always try and shoot with Golden State. Lebron James is still the best basketball player in the world and won two games on his own last year, make no mistake, this isn’t the same Cavs team as it was last year, however it’s not the same Warriors team either.
JR Smith doesn’t have the best reputation due to some dirty plays in the past, however the guy is having a great season on both sides of the basketball. He’s going to get the initial task of covering Klay Thompson and he’ll be as up for the task as anyone, he’s played great defense all playoffs long, despite a few rough patches against Demar Derozen, however he’ll get help when he needs it.
He struggled on offense last year in the finals and needs to keep playing well this series. His ability to not only hit the open three, but hit crazy off balance shots are imperative to any success Cleveland is looking to have.
The Cavs win it on their home floor in 6 to bring an end to a miserable 52 year championship drought for the City of Cleveland.
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