NBA Finals Preview and Prediction

After defeating the Houston Rockets, 104-90 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors are headed to the NBA Finals where they will meet Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a franchise that has never won a NBA championship. In a championship filled with star power, intrigue, and two of the best home courts in the NBA, this finals should make for an epic series.

One of the biggest keys for Golden State will obviously be to limit the effect that Lebron James could have on the game. For the most part, the Dubs struggled to keep the King outside of the paint when they met in the regular season. He shot 8-10 at the rim, and 8-11 from that charity stripe. Even Draymond Green, the runner-up for DPOY, had difficulty guarding Lebron in the low post. However, Draymond and Harrison Barnes are both crafty enough defenders to force Lebron into making bad decisions with that ball, and eventually turning it over. Of course, the Warriors will need a rim protector, and luckily for them, they have arguably the best in the business. Bogut will be the one chiefly charged with attempting to stymie Lebron when he gets into the lane, and it is pivotal that he stay out of foul trouble, because Festus Ezeli just isn’t quite the rim protector that Bogut is. Ideally, the Warriors will do whatever they can to make James a jump shooter/3 point shooter, because he has been terrible from that area.
Obviously defense is crucial, and while Golden State has the best defense, the Cavs lead the postseason in opponents points per game at only 92.3, and while that may have something to do with who they have played this postseason, there is no denying that this is a much improved defensive team from the regular season. However, the Warriors have to many weapons and it will be a tall task to attempt to limit them. Stephen Curry is going to be Stephen Curry, he is going to do amazing things, and the man who will likely draw the assignment of guarding him, is the Cavs X-Factor for the series: Iman Shumpert. While the Rockets simply couldn’t stop Golden State, one player in particular, gave the Warriors issues: Trevor Ariza. Shumpert has similar length and ability to stretch the floor like Ariza. If Shumpert is on his game, hitting threes, and limiting the Warriors best player, he could have an astronomical effect on this series, and potentially swing in the Cavaliers favor. With Kyrie Irving being such a poor defender, the Cavs will probably have to hide him away from Curry or Thompson, which leads us to the Warriors X-Factor: Harrison Barnes. Barnes will not only be tasked with guarding the King at times, but he will also have the smaller Irving guarding from time to time, it is crucial for Barnes to take advantage of Kyrie, and score when he is guarding him. With contributions from Curry, Thompson, and Barnes, to go alongside Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala’s ability to stretch the floor, the Warriors have so many weapons who are capable of giving them a huge scoring boost on any given night.
Turnovers by both teams will be critical, both teams love to get out and run, but the Warriors more so. If Cleveland turns the ball over, the Warriors will run to the three point line, where the Splash Brothers will hit there more times than not. The matchup of Curry vs Lebron is amazing, it’s box office, but as most playoff series come down to, it will be the supporting casts, who decide these finals.
MVP vs MVP, two franchises dying for a championsip, the two best home courts in the playoffs, and two cities who need something to celebrate about. It should all set up for an amazing series.
Prediction: Golden State in 7, the Dubs simply have too many weapons for the Cavs, that combined with the fact they have home court advantage in Game 7 should push them over the top.
Series MVP: Wardell Stephen Curry
By: Ashvin Muddappa
Edited by: Mac Crowe

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