The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been too shabby during the postseason, losing just once and setting the stage for a star-studded Finals between clubs that combined to win 118 regular season games and go 24-1 this postseason.
NBA Finals Schedule
Game 1: Cavaliers at Warriors, Thursday, June 1, 9 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 2: Cavaliers at Warriors, Sunday, June 4, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 3: Warriors at Cavaliers, Wednesday, June 7, 9 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 4: Warriors at Cavaliers, Friday, June 9, 9 p.m. ET (ABC)
Game 5: Cavaliers at Warriors, Monday, June 12, 9 p.m. ET (ABC)*
Game 6: Warriors at Cavaliers, Thursday, June 15, 9 p.m. ET (ABC)*
Game 7: Cavaliers at Warriors, Sunday, June 18, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)*
* If Necessary
Why the Cavaliers Will Win
LeBron James. There isn’t much more for The King to do but that doesn’t slow him down. Appearing in his seventh straight Finals, James has again been dominant for the Cavs this postseason. And his value to the team was evident in Game 3 of the East Final when he had one of the worst playoff games of his career. James tallied only 11 points and the Cavs blew a big lead, dropping their only postseason game.
The good news for the Cavs is that those kinds of games are rare for LeBron and what he’s done the rest of the postseason is more the norm. James scored at least 30 points in 11 of the other 12 playoff games and is averaging 32.5 points per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor.
The Cavs also have a stellar cast around James. Two years ago in the Finals Cleveland was without Kevin Love, who sustained a shoulder injury earlier in the postseason. Kyrie Irving went down with a knee injury in Game 1 and the Cavs didn’t have the firepower. Last season Love, Irving and James led a historic comeback by winning the final three games to earn Cleveland its first pro sports championship in half a century.
Cleveland has the horses to compete and they also have the confidence knowing they can beat the Warriors. The Cavs were left for dead after falling behind 3-1 last year, but they rallied and handed the Dubs three straight losses for the first time in 2015-16. They also won twice on the road in a building that’s tough on the opposition.
Why the Warriors Will Win
They don’t lose. Back in March, Golden State was struggling after Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury. They were dealing with a brutal part of the schedule that had them on the road in seven out of eight games with little time between contests. Steve Kerr chose to rest Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala in the final game of that stretch, saying it was for the greater good. After seeing what the Dubs have done since then, Kerr knew exactly what he was doing.
The Dubs won 14 straight, losing only to Utah in a meaningless game at the end of the regular season. They kicked it into high gear by defeating the Lakers to end the season and proceeded to rattle off 12 consecutive playoff victories. All told the Dubs are an insane 27-1 since losing to the Spurs on Mar. 11, and it doesn’t look like they are ready to quit now.
With Curry and Durant leading the way the Warriors are averaging a postseason-best 118.3 points per game. They also own the best defensive rating this postseason at 99.1. They’ve done it on both ends of the court all season and that has continued to a higher degree in the postseason.
The Warriors felt they were the better team last season and are still irked by the outcome. Losing Game 7 at home was difficult and has stayed with them. The Dubs are also motivated by Durant, who came to Northern California with the sole purpose of winning a championship. The X-factor for Golden State is Green, who has done a masterful job on defense this postseason. When Green was suspended for Game 5 last season, the Cavs took advantage to extend the series. Green needs to control his temper to help cool off the hot-shooting Cavs.
Cavaliers vs. Warriors Free Picks
Both teams are playing exceptionally well and they have a chance to save the postseason. It’s been a rather uninteresting playoff year with blowout wins as the top two teams went through the motions to get here. Neither team has lost a road game this postseason so homecourt advantage is likely out of the question. Both clubs are machine-like on offense so it will come down to which plays better defensively. And defense is an underrated aspect of each team’s game.
Cleveland bolstered its depth during the year adding Kyle Korver and Deron Williams and is probably better prepared this year than it was last. James, Irving and Love have been unstoppable and I like them to make this interesting. However, the Dubs have a chip on their shoulder and revenge is a powerful motivator.
Cavaliers vs. Warriors Series Prediction: Golden State in 7