Warriors-Raptors: (Finally) An Entertaining NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors will now make their 5thstraight NBA Finals appearance tonight, though for once, they will not have to face the Cleveland Cavaliers or LeBron James. James leaving Cleveland left the Cavs with one of the worst records in the NBA, and a new team to finally take over the throne of the Eastern Conference. Once LeBron left, it became a race between the Toronto Raptors, who had traded for Kawhi Leonard this past summer, the Boston Celtics, who had just made the Eastern Conference Finals and challenged LeBron the season before on his way to his 8thstraight NBA Finals appearance, and the Philadelphia 76ers, who were led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and during the season traded for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. No one expected the Milwaukee Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokuonmpo, to have an MVP-caliber season and lead them to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would play Toronto. Toronto, however, having been down 2-0 to start the series, won the next 4 to take the series in 6 and go to the NBA Finals. The Warriors had a somewhat difficult path to the Finals this year, with a near first-round scare from the LA Clippers. The Warriors had a 1-0 lead in the series and were looking to make it 2-0 when they were up by 31 in the 3rdquarter, but lo and behold, the All-Star-less Clippers won that game. Then, when the Warriors were up 3-1 and looking to close it out in their building, the Clippers won again. Since then, the Warriors beat the Rockets in what was a surprisingly short series against the Rockets, where they won in 6 games (short considering how the Rockets were expected to take the series to 7), and then they swept the Portland Trail Blazers. Along the way, they ended up losing DeMarcus Cousins in the first round, who will be back tonight, and Kevin Durant in the Western Conference Semifinals, who will be out for at least tonight and Game 2 (I do not expect him to be healthy and playing this series). Here is what I think will happen in this intriguing NBA Finals.

The Series Depends on Kevin Durant

In the last 32 games that Golden State has played without Kevin Durant and with Stephen Curry, they have a 31-1 record. The last 32 games with them both, the Warriors are 21-11. Yet despite all the crazy thoughts and ideas that people have, saying that the Warriors are better without Kevin Durant as opposed to with him, they are definitely better with Durant in the lineup. With Kevin Durant, there is less movement without the ball by the players, and more movement with the ball, which stems from Durant’s ability to create separation from defenders and get open shots. Durant being there allows for Golden State to play slower, but play more effectively, and put more value into each possession, with his bonafide scoring ability. While I do not expect Durant to play, but if he does, and he does before Game 7, the Warriors will be overwhelming favorites to win the series.

Marc Gasol Will Outplay Demarcus Cousins

It has been no secret that Demarcus Cousins’ injury history has finally taken a toll on him, and that should be an area where Toronto should have the advantage. The Warriors have the advantage right now at shooting guard with Klay Thompson being better than Danny Green, point guard with Curry being better than Kyle Lowry, and then power forward and small forward matchups are close to even, with Draymond Green and Pascal Siakam being rather evenly matched, and Kawhi and KD being evenly matched as well. But what can give Toronto a huge boost is the defensive prowess and improved shooting of Marc Gasol, who can also tire out Demarcus Cousins very quickly due to his lack of movement and speed due to his injuries. I fully expect Raptors Coach Nick Nurse to use Gasol as the second scoring option behind Kawhi, and I fully expect Gasol to take advantage.

The Warriors Bench Needs to Play Valuable Minutes… and Make Valuable Use of Them

The Warriors bench, I think everyone can agree, is certainly not better than that of Toronto, led by Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell, but the Warriors do have experience in NBA Finals games. The bench, led by Andre Iguodala, who has been with the Warriors for all of the past 5 years, will need guys like Quinn Cook, Alfonzo McKinnie, and Damian Jones to match up with the likes of Ibaka, VanVleet, and Powell. As good as Curry, Green, and Thompson have been these playoffs, this is the NBA Finals, and these guys will need rest each game, so these guys better be ready. I know Toronto’s guys will be considering how much they have relied on this postseason. Golden State’s bench better match that.

Drake Will Frustrate Golden State

The NBA’s greatest fan currently is certainly going to be a big discussion point in these Finals. Drake was arrogantly called out by Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer in the Eastern Conference Finals and said Drake was a ‘distraction’. So, are guys like Spike Lee, who has been at Knicks games for 20+ years, not? Just because Drake is a passionate, flamboyant fan, does not mean that he is a distraction. That being said, the world is full of petty people, and Golden State will feel frustrated by the antics he pulls during this series.

Despite All That…

The Warriors will probably still win. Simply put, there is no way that Kyle Lowry and Danny Green can stop Curry and Thompson. IF Durant does not come back and IF Toronto doesn’t lose any home games, they will win in 7. My expectation is that Golden State will lose Game 5 at Toronto, go back home, and win in 6. So yes, my prediction is Warriors in 6, but I sure hope I am wrong, and it is Raptors in 7. This will be a great and entertaining series, and certainly a series where you cannot count Toronto out.

 

2016 NBA Finals Game 6: All or Nothing? Or Everything?

The NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors looks like they have become interesting again, as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 41 points each in their win to force a Game 6 back in Cleveland. However, the scuffle between Warriors PF Draymond Green and Cleveland superstar LeBron James in Game 4 might’ve just ruined the series for Golden State, as the Cavs are clawing back.

Tonight: Game 6

Tonight, very simple. Draymond Green will lose the game single-handedly for the Warriors. He is the reason Cleveland has all the momentum on their side to force a Game 7 back in Oakland, and he will be afraid. Every time he has the ball, the fans will be booing him, and anytime he is the primary defender, people are probably going to be chanting ‘Kick LeBron,” just so he can get ejected and lose his mind. I think the tactic from Cavs fans could work, because LeBron and Kyrie are IN THE ZONE! If someone like Kevin Love, JR Smith, or even Tristan Thompson can get it going, it’ll be a relaxing flight back to Oakland for the Cavs.

Who Wins Game 7?

I think Cleveland wins Game 7, making a historic comeback down 3-1 in the series. I just do not see a way that Draymond can calm himself down and not put more pressure on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Also, their Center Andrew Bogut is done for the series, so Green has to rebound the ball and be aggressive on the glass. I do not like the Warriors’ chances of winning this series.

The Offseason

LeBron fulfils his promise of crowning Cleveland ONCE, and goes back to Miami and fulfils his promise of winning even more, as he said on July 10th, 2010.

The NBA Finals: Why Both Teams Can Win, And Who Will Actually Win?

When Kyrie Irving went down for Cleveland in Game 1, people thought that the league’s best team, the Golden State Warriors, led by MVP Stephen Curry, would sweep the Cavs. But in Game 2, LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, annihilated Golden State. Matthew Dellavedova led Cleveland in Game 3. Then, it happened. Steve Kerr, coach of the Warriors, lied to the media about the starting lineup, and put veteran small forward Andre Iguodala in for Andrew Bogut. Iggy, who had not started the entire year, and was guarding LeBron, led the team to a Game 4 win. Now, it’s a best of 3. Here is why both could win, and who will actually win.

How Cleveland Can Win

LeBron James, the greatest player on Earth, plays for Cleveland, not Miami (sadly). He single-handedly has taken 2 of the first 4 games. He has led the team, but Matthew Dellavedova (aka Delly) on defense, and J.R. Smith on offense has helped out majorly with helping out James. LeBron and Co. will lose Game 5 (Sunday, June 14, 2015 on ABC), but they will win Games 6 and 7 (Tuesday, June 16, 2015, and Friday, June 19, 2015, respectively, both on ABC). Also, coach David Blatt needs to play more players in this series (he’s only played 8). Play Shawn Marion and Kendrick Perkins, who’ve won NBA Finals (with the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics, respectively). I mean, they made big-time trades to get these guys, so you’d might as well play them. If Blatt figures out a way to fit them into the offense along with LeBron, and also if LeBron can give out a ‘magic touch’ to his teammates, then maybe they can win this thing. It will be a difficult task, but they should be able to figure this who scenario out. They’ll win in 7.

How Golden State Can Win

Yo! Cleveland fans, remember 2007, when LeBron was solo-mio? Well Cleveland, those memories will haunt you guys forever. Sure, Kobe was the best player on Earth then, but still, he can’t lead them to a series win, especially against Golden State. Steph Curry is still the MVP, and Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, HB (Harrison Barnes), and Andre Iguodala have played magnificently, especially in the new lineup. LeBron has lost only two Game 6’s in his entire career, and none at ‘The Q’ (Quicken Loans Arena, in Cleveland), so winning Game 6 will be almost impossible for Golden State, since it is in ‘The Q’, but Games 5 and 7 in Oakland (Oracle Arena, in Oakland), will be guaranteed for Golden State to win in 7.

Now Seriously, Who Will ACTUALLY Win?

Golden State will win this in 7 games. I feel that the new lineup by Steve Kerr, and the tired and old legs of Cleveland won’t be able to stop this lineup of Golden State’s. Sure, they can play those vets, but Golden State has their own vets off the bench, such as Shawn Livingston and Leandro Barbosa will prove to be the X-factors, and Curry will show LeBron why he wasn’t the MVP (LeBron said after Game 3 that it is his “extra motivation” to win the NBA Finals). MVP: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors