The playoffs have been epic already. It’s hard to believe the finals are finally here.
For the Warriors, getting past the Rockets was a monumental achievement. The struggle of the accomplishment itself vs. living up to expectations brought the Dubs to the brink. In some ways, it also forged the Warriors of the future.
Now the Warriors face the Cavaliers in a series that’s historic in its own right. The series marks the first time in major North American sports history that the championship will match the same teams in four consecutive years.
Cleveland and Golden State each advanced to the NBA Finals with Game 7 road victories in the Conference Finals – the first time in NBA history that both Conference Finals in a season ended with Game 7 road victories.
The Warriors are heavy favorites. Nearly historic favorites. With legalized gambling on basketball about to crash over the game, oddsmakers are gaining a seat at the table.
Enjoy it while it lasts, by next year the gambling industry will own the NBA. Fans will just be visitors to the game.
On the other side, LeBron James’ almost single-handed willing of this Cavaliers squad to the finals is one of the greatest feats basketball has ever seen.
LeBron has routinely turned in performances that would be considered once-in-a-career efforts for most players. It is impossible to overstate the level of his play in this postseason. We are seeing a legend at his peak. It is amazing to be around for this moment.
So it’s time to sit back and enjoy the competition.
Here are some things to watch.
LeBron is the master. He sees the court like no one else and can execute passes that break down defenses in uncanny ways.
The Warriors fortunately don’t have to rely on a single playmaker. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are all skilled passes. In the second team, David West and Shaun Livingston bring the same mindset.
To be honest, I’m looking forward to a Warriors feast. Steph’s gonna Steph. Klay too. Kevin Durant will turn his steely eye to the basket and make defenders cry. Here’s to Shaun finding his range along with David West. I hope that Nick Young comes out and catches fire.
At some point, LeBron will find his range. Possibly early and often. The question is whether Kyle Korver will get hot. Same for JR Smith. If Kevin Love finds his way back to the court, he may have his moments as well.
Someone said that Kevin Durant likes a challenge. Give him the toughest guy on the court and hel engages. If that’s true, then Durant on LeBron should be the ticket. At some point Andre Iguodala will be ready to return and he is the LeBron specialist. He may be the difference in the late part of the series.
Draymond will be in the middle of everything, as per his usual. It will be interesting to see how many LeBron plays he can blow up.
The Cavaliers were among the worst defenders during the regular season. Coming off the Rockets series and the toughness they dished out, Steph, KD and Klay may be in for some good times.
The Warriors are definitely showing the way they want to go with big men. Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee stayed on the bench for all but garbage time minutes during the Rockets series. The formula may change a bit for the Cavs - and given that this may well be the last series that either wears a Warriors uniform, I hope that they both gets real minutes. Zaza has given tons to the team. JaVale too.
But I expect that the series will be a coming out party for Jordan Bell.
Will Steph Curry win his first Finals MVP?
The writing is on the wall. KD won last year. Andre Iguodala won in 2015. It’s Steph’s time.
And other thoughts
This series will likely be the swan songs for Zaza Pachulia and David West. Most likely JaVale McGee as well. Nick Young was a one-year add to the team. It’s been too short. The Warriors deserved more of you.
Oakland and the Oracle arena. Next year the Warriors move across the bay to a new building. Not sure if going from a space sponsored by predatory IT company to one named for a predatory financial institution is a move in the right direction, but it is what it is.