With the Golden State Warriors hitting form, and the Cleveland Cavaliers hitting the rocks a little, is it time to admit that the Golden State Warriors are the favourites to lift the Championship? Before the season began, everyone highlighted that the Warriors would struggle with the defensive end of the ball game as they acquired Kevin Durant, only to lose Bogut and Ezeli. However, that has not been the case as to everyone’s surprise they have been the best defensive team of the season and the acquisition of Kevin Durant has made their defence stronger. In that blowout win at the Oracle against Cleveland, Durant showed that he can even play a little bit of 5 as he shutdown LeBron James partly, something that Durant has struggled to do since he first started matching up with LeBron.
The rivalry between Golden State and Cleveland is pretty much the only relevant thing the NBA has going on this year. You can mention this new rivalry between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook too, but that’s quite irrelevant due to the Thunder not being a realistic challenge for Golden State. You can also mention the constant beef between ‘Boogie’ Cousins and the refs, but who really cares about the Sacramento Kings? There are no other realistic contenders from the Eastern Conference, and Golden State will likely overhaul any Western team apart from Kahwi’s Spurs who could mount a challenge. Everybody has it set into their minds that the final is already set out between these two super teams.
After making an impressive fourth quarter comeback on Christmas Day, the Cleveland Cavaliers showed that they had the most experience of the two teams. However, last week the Warriors won by 35 points which turned a few heads and made many people believe that the Warriors are by far the superior team due to the star power they have. Since the trade for Kyle Korver, Cleveland’s plans haven’t started superbly, their record has drifted out to 30-12, whilst the impressive Warriors have moved to 37-6. Of course this is just the regular season, which means LeBron will be strolling along, and the defending champions won’t be in that playoff mindset. To add to that, this time last year the Warriors were like 40-3, whilst the Cavaliers were in danger as they had many managerial problems.
The whole NBA are pretty much relying on LeBron to stop this mega team from winning it all, just like last season when he spurred his team to a 3-1 comeback. This season means so much more because of Kevin Durant though and has caused many basketball fans to turn on the Warriors. Here is what I see happening in this years finals (and yes I do think it will be a Warriors-Cavs final).
PG: Steph Curry vs Kyrie Irving. Recent times have showed that Irving is more clutch than Curry. But with less responsibility on the 2x MVP this year it could be his year to shine. Both players are at the top of their game, and reliable scorers for both of their teams. You can’t really make a decision between these two, Curry is unstoppable from the 3pt line, and Kyrie can not be stopped on the drive.
SG: Klay Thompson vs JR Smith. This will obviously be all about JR trying to shut down the impressive Thompson once again. He managed to keep Thompson pretty quiet last year, and obviously popped a few impressive three’s himself. Whoever is guarding Klay, whether it’s Smith, Liggins or Shumpert, their job will be to give him as little room as possible and challenge every shot he puts up. If Klay gets on fire then you can’t stop him, just like he showed in his 37 point quarter against the Kings last year.
SF: Kevin Durant vs LeBron James. The best two players in the World. LeBron can not go into the mode where he thinks that he can jump every shot, he needs to drive into the paint and get the Warriors into foul trouble. Once he did this last year, the Warriors started panicking. On the other hand, Kevin Durant needs to keep popping shots and be as efficient as we all know he can be. Durant has not shown any sign of being clutch throughout his career, this is his major chance on the biggest stage. Everyone knows how impressive he is going forward, but he needs to make a big contribution defending the paint this series.
PF: Draymond Green vs Kevin Love. Green has clearly showed he is the glue to this Warriors team, you know that he will turn up. His major part in this game is to keep Love quiet, like Cleveland will try to do with Thompson. He also needs to protect the paint and get into James’ head. Kevin Love has had a great year thus far when fit, his 3pt range is a danger to any team.
C: Zaza Pachulia vs Tristan Thompson. All these guys need to do is defend the paint, grab rebounds and make as big of a defensive contribution as possible. Everyone knows that this series will be close so that extra rebound could be the difference.
Bench: Obviously these players will be used to give the starters a rest, but there will only be two real relevant players in my opinion that will affect the game massively. Andre Iguadola needs a series like he had 2 years ago. Kyle Korver needs to show the World that he is one of the best shooters of all time, it’s as simple as that, both players will make huge contributions coming off of the bench.
After showing they can actually defend, I predict that the Golden State Warriors will win the Championship 4-2. This series could go either way, and we all know LeBron James can turn a series’ on its head.