The 2016 NBA Finals Preview


Alright everybody, it’s here. The moment you’ve all been waiting for…THE NBA FINALS. 

From the Western Conference, we have the Golden State Warriors. Their 73 wins during the regular season is an NBA record and Stephen Curry won his second consecutive MVP Trophy. They are the consensus best team in the NBA.

From the Eastern Conference, we have the Cleveland Cavaliers. They fired their coach, David Blatt, halfway through their season, a surprise move, but still were able to acquire the number one seed in the East. Lebron James had a down year, compared to his previous years, but is still one of the most dominant players in the world.


Warriors Playoff Review

The Houston Rockets were the first team to face off against the Warriors in the playoffs. Sadly, Curry injured his ankle in Game 1 and his knee in Game 4, but the Dubs were still able to finish off James Harden and the Rockets in five games, even with Curry only playing 39 total minutes. 

The Portland Trailblazers were up next and were also beaten in five games, thanks to Curry coming back strong from his knee injury to score 40 in Game 4 and 29 in Game 5.

In the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder put quite a scare into the Warriors and the entire Bay Area as they held a 3-1 lead. Luckily, Klay and Steph’s hot shooting coupled with some great defensive intensity allowed them to persevere and pull out 3 straight victories to head back to The NBA Finals.

Cavaliers Playoff Review

Cleveland has had a very easy ride through the playoffs, as the Eastern Conference is not as good as the West, plain and simple. The Pistons played very physically in the 1st round but they could not compete with the Cavaliers for an entire four quarters. Cleveland was just too talented and too focused to stop and lose even one game. 

The Atlanta Hawks were the Cavaliers’ next opponent and they did not fair any better than the Pistons, also getting swept in four games. Lebron averaged 24-8-7 in this series.

The Toronto Raptors somehow met the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals and most people picked Cleveland to sweep again. But the Raptors were a very tough team and it took Lebron and his squad 6 games to finally beat them. Lebron now advances to his 6th (!) straight NBA Finals.


Golden State Strengths

While this Warriors team is one of the greatest of all time, it is currently the playoffs, which means the regular season doesn’t mean SQUAT. No one cares about what you did, it’s all about what you can do going forward.

Golden State’s offense has been playing exceptionally well as of late, thanks to their shooting. Klay and Steph are the greatest shooting backcourt of all time (yeah, I said it) and their team’s playoff stats back them up. 1st in points per game, 1st in three point attempts, 3rd in three point percentage at 40%, 1st in pace — wow, they’re pretty damn good huh?

Defensively, Andre Iguodala locked up Kevin Durant pretty well the last two games of the Conference Finals and if he works just as hard against Lebron James — he did it in The Finals last year against the King— then the Warriors will have a great chance of repeating as NBA Champions.

Cleveland Strengths

While everyone has been saying that the Cavaliers have had an easy road to The Finals (guilty!), winning 10 games in a row in the playoffs is a tough feat, regardless of opponent. Every team is playing their hardest and giving their all, but the Cavaliers have yet to face a team like the Warriors.

The Cavs, like the Warriors, are also shooting very well from outside in the 2016 playoffs. They’re 2nd in three point attempts and 1st in three point percentage, with JR Smith and free agent pickup Channing Frye shooting lights out from deep. Lebron loves to hold the ball for awhile and then fire it to one of those two for a quick three. Look for that play in The Finals over and over and over and…you get the idea.

Cleveland doesn't have any single lockdown defender like the Warriors have but as a team in the playoffs, they've been solid. 4th in points per game and a surge from the Cavs’ big men on the boards have them feeling high and mighty as they ride into the Bay Area.


Golden State Weakness

Rebounding. That is one of the Warriors’ biggest problems right now, as they’re giving up 47 rebounds per game, good for 2nd worst among playoff teams. The Dubs love to play small, with their death lineup, but that means they give up a lot of rebounds. Last series against OKC, this almost came back to bite them big time. Luckily, the Warriors were able to out shoot the Thunder and scrape out three straight wins.

Cleveland Weakness

Usually the Cavaliers’ defense is their weakness. As of right now in these playoffs, they’re playing great defense. BUT…they’re playing the Warriors. They’re playing Steph Curry. They’re playing Draymond Green. The Dubs can split your defense in two on any given night. While Cleveland’s defense is playing alright right now, it will be a huge factor the next couple weeks, something the Warriors will prey on.


5 Questions:

1. Who will guard Stephen Curry?

-Kyrie Irving was able to somewhat lockdown Curry in last year’s Finals before he got injured, but he’s fully healthy now. Curry is a quick guy and Kyrie might get tired quickly. The Cavs might have to put Lebron on him or even Matthew Dellavedova again.

2. Who will guard Lebron James?

-Andre Iguodala was a beast guarding Lebron last year in June. The big question that remains is this: will Iguodala start again, something we saw in the last two games of the Western Conference Finals when he defended Durant well. If Harrison Barnes starts, then he’ll have to guard the King. Iggy is a much better option and needs to play a lot of minutes.

3. Will the Warriors’ death lineup be their downfall?

-As I said before, the Warriors rebound numbers were way down in these playoffs. Their death lineup is smaller than their normal lineup and is a huge liability when it comes to boxing out and grabbing boards. The Dubs need to compete a lot harder on the glass in these Finals in order to put pressure on the Cavaliers on that end of the court.

4. How many three pointers will be made in these Finals?

-Both teams are scorching from beyond the arc in these playoffs especially as of late, with the Warriors shooting 40% and the Cavalier shooting 43%. They combined for 116 last year in The Finals but I think it will be more like 130-140 this year. Curry and Klay are three point specialists and the Cavs added Channing Frye for one reason: to shoot three pointers.

5. Will Anderson Varejao get a ring, regardless who wins?

-Yes. He began the season as a Cavalier and will finish the season as a Warrior. Whether or not his current Warriors wins, he’ll still get an NBA championship ring. It reminds me of 2010, when Bengie Molina started the baseball season with the Giants, left us for the Rangers, and then played against us in the World Series. He lost that series but got a ring anyways. 


NBA.com

Conclusion

The Warriors and the Cavaliers are back in a seven game series and I LOVE IT. This is what the NBA wanted and what all the fans wanted (well, except for Oklahoma City fans). 

Lebron James has played well against the Golden State Warriors throughout his career and especially when he plays them at Oracle Arena. 

Klay Thompson is looking great coming off his god-like performance in the Conference Finals and his splash bro Steph Curry isn't playing too badly himself.

Both teams are ranked in the top five in playoff offensive and defensive ratings and they’re both seething for another shot at the title. I cannot wait to see which team will come out on top!

While the Cavaliers are more rested, the Warriors have been more tested. The Cavs are healthier than last year but the Warriors now have a TWO TIME MVP. This series will be incredibly close but I do have to make a prediction. Sorry Bron Bron.

GSW 4-3

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