The NBA Finals are here. It's a rematch of the last two NBA Finals for the first time in league history, with the Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the Golden State Warriors. The Cavs are looking to make it back-to-back NBA titles, while the Warriors want to claim their second in three years after blowing a 3-1 lead in 2016. While a Game 1 preview will come in the coming days, here's a preview & prediction for the entire series.
Game 1 Info:
Date: Thursday, June 1
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Spread: Warriors (-7)
What They're Saying About The Golden State Warriors:
Warriors Hype Video (Chat Sports)
Last Year’s Warriors Weren’t The Best Ever, But This Year’s Might Be (ESPN)
Perfect postseason ‘doesn’t matter’ to Warriors’ superstar (San Jose Mercury News)
What They're Saying About The Cleveland Cavaliers:
Cavs Hype Video (Chat Sports)
NBA Finals rookies Kyle Korver, Deron Williams become theme in Cavaliers’ championship push (Akron Beacon Journal)
Cleveland Cavaliers win title in six games? Here's how -- Terry Pluto (video) (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Key To The Series: Whose role players steal a win?
This series has as much star power as you could want, and they're going to do what we all expect. However, as great and as important as the stars are in a series like this, role players may very well determine the outcome.
Heck, Andre Iguodala won the Finals MVP two years ago for his defense on LeBron. Tristan Thompson is an offensive rebounding force who can change a game, especially against a team without a dominant big man like the Warriors. Will J.R. Smith get hot from three one game? What about Shaun Livingston defending Kyrie Irving? All of these things are little sub-notes in the gameplan that could change a singular game, allowing a team to steal a win they otherwise wouldn't.
And, in a series that is expected to go six or seven games, that game could be the difference.
Prediction: Warriors win in 7
I think each team steals a road game early in this series, but then the home teams will hold serve in Games 5, 6 & 7. I do have concerns about Mike Brown coaching the Warriors in tight late-game situations. However, Golden State simply has too much talent. This group nearly beat the full-strength Cavs last year, and adding Kevin Durant tipped the scales in their favor. It will be a tough, hard-fought, back-and-forth series, but ultimately, Golden State's overall talent advantage will win out.