Tonight kicks off the highly anticipated NBA Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) and the Golden State Warriors (67-15). With the amount of NBA elite talent to be displayed in this series, basketball fans everywhere are eager to see what the series has in store. This will be LeBron James’ fifth straight year he has made the NBA Finals, the first player to accomplish this feat since Boston Celtics great Bill Russell. Fresh off his NBA MVP Award, Stephen Curry, one of the most exciting players to watch, will look to bring the first NBA Championship to the city of Oakland since 1975.
After the Cavaliers experienced their early season woes, Cleveland soon turned it around and recently became basketball’s hottest teams in the playoffs, no pun intended to some of the players’ boosie hot tub celebration after the teams’ Eastern Conference Finals victory. With mid-season additions of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Timofey Mosgov, the Cavs really filled up some big holes that were hampering them from taking the team to the next level.
The Warriors, however, had no problem rolling through the stacked Western Conference, finishing the season with the NBA’s best record. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, otherwise known as the Splash Brothers, these two players have carried Golden State to the NBA Finals with ease, most recently beating the Houston Rockets, who came into the series with a lot of momentum on their side.
There are a few keys to victory for both teams:
Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron Needs to Perform
With the loss of Kevin Love before the first series of the playoffs even concluded, LeBron James knew he had to step up in order for his team to reach the Finals. One of LeBron’s talents is that he can take his game up to the next level when he needs to. Take Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, for example. After starting the game 0 for his first 11, James still managed to have a career game. There’s a reason why this will already be his sixth NBA Finals appearance in his career. Oh, and he’s only 30 years old, by the way.
Golden State Warriors – Golden State’s Defense
We all know the Warriors need to stop the four-time MVP, LeBron James, but what about the rest of the team? Going back to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs seemed to be unstoppable against the Hawks. J.R. Smith continuously made impossible shots look easy. And who can forget the unbelievable ball handling skills of Uncle Drew, AKA Kyrie Irving. If there was a team to stop the Cavs high octane offense, it would be the Draymond Green-led defense of the Warriors.
The bench of NBA teams is often overlooked, but after the Warriors bench seemed to come through in the Western Conference Finals, we saw how just how vital they can be. Shaun Livingston dazzled in Game 1 against the Rockets, playing a huge role in erasing a 14 point deficit and stealing any momentum the Rockets might have had coming into the series. Andre Igudola and Leandro Barbosa brought their veteran presence to the playoffs and Festus Ezili went toe to toe against one of the league’s best centers, Dwight Howard. The Warriors have one of the deepest benches in the league, and if utilized correctly, the benefits can be huge.
These two teams match up well together, but the Cavaliers have yet to face a foe who is nearly as good as the Warriors. Between the Splash Brothers and Golden State’s smothering defense, the Warriors will be giving the Cavaliers trouble all series. Expect the Warriors to win in seven games and more cute Riley Curry press conferences.
Image Source: ESPNfivethirtyeight