For those of you that think this NBA Finals is a no-brainer that Golden State will run right through Cleveland…think again. Keep in mind, LeBron and the Cavs beat the NBA’s best regular season team EVER in 2016. If you think this series is already over, you’re wrong…buckle up.
LeBron, at age 33 and in his 15th season, is having one of his highest-scoring playoffs in history, and in my opinion, the best playoff run by any player in playoffs history. He is averaging 33.7 points through 15 playoff games, a pace that ranks second in his career. His top scoring average was 35.3 points per game in 2009. At this rate, Cleveland will win at least 1 game and take it to 5 games simply because LeBron is on a rampage.
Golden State on the other hand, while being one of the best teams of this generation, has been inconsistent at times during this playoff run. I watched Game 7 and they looked pathetic in the first half. Klay Thompson picked up 3 BAD fould in less than 5 minutes. Which, you can technically blame on Steve Kerr for poor coaching. (I’ve never been impressed with Kerr as a coach.) Steph Curry was non-existent until the 3rd quarter. They don’t defend well. The Warriors went from blowing out Houston in Games 1, 3, and 6 to bareley sneaking by them in Game 7 because Houston couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat in the 4th.
My point being, Golden state is nowhere near as gaood as they were in 2015-16. Yes, they have Kevin Durant, whom they didn’t have in 2016. But he’s not the difference in my opinion and he’s sure as heck not helping them on the defensive end. Golden State’s weakness as a team is on defense, and Cleveland is at their best when they’re moving the ball, penetrating and dishing, and spacing the floor with shooters which can expose Golden State. Something that I personally think can benefit Cleveland. In Game 2 of the WCF, the Warriors gave up 51 percent from the field, allowing role players P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, and Eric Gordon to combine for 68 points. Yikes. Oh and by the way, over the last 17 games of the regular season, the Warriors ranked in the bottom half in the league in defensive rating (106.4) and defensive rebounding (33.5). It was the worst defense during Kerr’s tenure. In his four seasons in Golden State, the Warriors had never ranked lower than fourth in the league in defensive efficiency. To be fair, Houston was in the top half of the league in offensive efficiency with Harden and Paul, all their shooters, and fast pace of play. But Cleveland is very comparable to Houston when they’re on.
Back to LeBron and Cleveland and why they will win this years’ NBA Finals. LeBron is playing at such an extraordinary level that anything is possible, including what would go down as one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Obviously the Warriors are the better team, and few would argue that. (Inluding LeBron.) But so far, nothing has stopped the Cavaliers from pulling out two Game 7’s, or from embarassing a 59-win Toronto team in four straight games who eventually got so sick of losing to LeBron that they fired the potential Coach of the Year Dwane Casey. Cleveland finds a way to play well enough to keep the games in striking distance so LeBron can lead the Cavs across the finish line, and that will be the strategy again starting Thursday against Golden State.
Another Cleveland title now isn’t what people expect, but it’s not as far fetched as people might think. It might require four games of around 30+ points, 9+ rebound, 9+ assists — about what LeBron is averaging in this postseason. It’s hard to expect that level of anyone, but that’s what’s demanded of LeBron in Cleveland. He might need a 50 point game, 40 point game, etc…
But LeBron can do it.
Believe it or not, so can the Cavs.
My pick: Cavs in 7.