After several days off thanks to non-competitive series, the 2017 NBA Finals is finally here. And for the third straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors. Both teams have a Finals win during that timeframe, with the Cavs the defending champs. So who gets off to the early series lead in Game 1? Here's a preview and prediction for tonight's game.
When: 9 p.m. ET
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Spread: Warriors by 7
What They're Saying About The Cleveland Cavaliers:
5 Biggest X-Factors for Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 NBA Finals (Bleacher Report)
Cavaliers could dust off Derrick Williams to play against Warriors (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Cavs Hype Video (Chat Sports)
What They're Saying About The Golden State Warriors:
Kevin Durant Open To Taking Less Money This Offseason (Chat Sports)
Here’s how and why the Warriors will take down the Cavs in six (San Jose Mercury News)
Warriors Hype Video (Chat Sports)
Key To The Game: How Do They Start?
Both teams are coming off abnormally long breaks, something that's been common for both Cleveland and Golden State this playoffs. So I'm curious how both teams start the games off.
Who gets the ball early for the Cavs? Do they try to get Kevin Love going early, do that let Kyrie Irving get a groove, do they try to get LeBron James matched up with lesser players and let him do LeBron things? Does the Cavs defense hold up early and can the shooters hit the open 3-pointers they'll likely get to help quite what will be a loud Oracle Crowd?
As for the Warriors, they didn't started the Western Conference Finals poorly against the San Antonio Spurs. Only a Kawhi Leonard injury allowed the Warriors to comeback for a win. The Warriors have had a concerning habit at times this year: struggle for the first half and then explode on a game-breaking run. But can they get by with that type of play against the Cavs, the best team they'll face all year? If the Warriors get behind early and the crowd is silenced a bit, how do they respond?
On the flip side, the Cavs have had the habit of jumping out to a big lead and letting the opponent crawl back into the game. The Pacers and Celtics both pulled that off, with Boston gutting out a win.
Games 1 through 6 last year were not close until a thrilling Game 7. A rough start by either squad could produce something similar.
Prediction: Warriors win 115-110
Expect to see a ton of 3-pointers in this game and series, as both teams love to chuck the deep ball and have had issues with defense. But, hopefully, after a NBA Playoffs full of blowouts, the Finals provides a close, thrilling matchup. The Warriors gut one out at home, behind strong games from their Big 4.