Well, it’s finally here.
Tonight, the NBA Finals start and the rematch everyone expected prior to the playoffs starting has arrived, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors doing battle for the third straight year.
And better yet, each team has won a title, making this the rubber match.
Make no mistake, the Golden State Warriors are a great team. They won 67 games in the regular season and have swept through the Western Conference playoffs. And their statistical resume is outstanding.
They led the NBA in field goal percentage, steals, and blocked shots. They are also number one in defensive field goal percentage and three point defensive field goal percentage.
They are also third in shooting the long range shot, but one of the teams are rank behind are the Cavaliers, who were second during the regular season.
If they have a weakness, they only rank 7th in the Association in rebounding and they are prone to turn the ball over, 9th in the league in that department.
However, we believe the Cavs have a solid chance to repeat as champions if they control the tempo, and are patient on offense.
We thought this before the San Antonio Spurs executed this in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals before Kawhi Leonard got hurt, and that performance early in that series just confirmed it.
There is no doubt that the Cavs will do what they did in last year’s Finals, that is, running pick-and-rolls with LeBron James and whoever Stephen Curry is guarding to get the matchup of Curry on James.
We understand many people think Curry is a good defender, but the metrics show the opposite, and besides he is five or six inches shorter than James and probably a good 70 to 80 pounds lighter.
Golden State is a solid defensive team, but we feel some of that comes from teams trying to place their style and at their pace. That leads to poor shot choices and poor passing, which accounts for their outstanding defensive field goal percentage and their steals.
We also think most NBA teams are intimidated by the Warriors. We said most, because most assuredly the Cavaliers are not.
We also have to bring up the way the games will be officiated. We have long contended that the Warriors are coached to foul each and every time down the floor, knowing the referees will not call them all.
If Golden State defenders are allowed to hack away at James’ arms when he takes the ball to the basket, that’s a huge advantage for them. The same with Curry and Klay Thompson on Kyrie Irving.
On the other hand, the Cavs want to be physical too. They will try to run Curry into picks, bumping him around hoping it will take its toll at the end of games and if the series goes to six or seven games.
One thing we don’t understand is the coaching edge everyone gives the Warriors if Steve Kerr is on the sidelines. Kerr is a fine coach, but we simply don’t see anything that gives him a decided edge over Tyronn Lue.
Lue has shown an ability to take away an opponents’ strength offensively. This ability will be tested in this series.
We believe the Cavaliers can win this series, and the Warriors shouldn’t be an overwhelming favorite. We understand they are favored, but it shouldn’t be a 90% chance.
As for a hero if the Cavs pull it off, besides one of the big three? We think JR Smith comes up big in a Cleveland repeat.