Using the 2015 Finals as a metric for the rematch between Warriors and the Cavaliers, the eventual champion seems pretty clear. Even with Golden State’s record-breaking season and Steph Curry’s unanimous MVP award, Cleveland comes off as the more dominant team. This season is going down exactly the way it should have. It’s only right the Cavaliers get a second chance to see the Warriors in the playoffs.
Last year, the Cavaliers are hardly the Cavaliers they are today. They were more so a survival unit led by LeBron James playing against another one of the greatest teams in the history of the NBA. All-star point guard Kyrie Irving, superstar big man Kevin Love, and other big man Anderson Varejao were all out for the series with injuries. This meant the Cavaliers had to use back-up point guard Matthew Dellavedova to guard Steph Curry, who rains trick shots for practice. The most impressive part, LeBron was able to bring the series to Game 6.
This year, LeBron has all of his men ready for battle. The Cavaliers have also made significant changes for the better this year as well. The two victories the Warriors had over the Cavaliers were when David Blatt was the Cavs’ head coach, and not the current coach Tyronn Lue. These two wins also happened without Channing Frye, who has made 58% of his 3-point attempts in the playoffs. Cleveland’s roster is so stacked, we have to put some numbers behind it.
Cleveland can start a lineup that has five first-round picks, four top-5 picks, two No.1 overall picks, and three All-Stars.
The Warriors have had a pretty bumpy post-season, barely closing out a 4-3 victory over Oklahoma City. If there is any good prep for Steph Curry to play Kyrie Irving, however, it’s seven games straight against the explosive Russell Westbrook. LeBron James is marginally better than Kevin Durant in every category, but that doesn’t mean that KD wasn’t good practice for Golden State. Steph Curry seemed to be playing in a bit of a funk after his injury, but it appears that he is back to his extraordinary playing self. Hopefully these seven games were enough to get the Golden State engine burning red-hot for the playoffs.
Cleveland, on the other hand, had a much easier road to the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors were akin to a (very) aggressive practice team, but they were practice nonetheless. They have had a couple days off to psych themselves up and let their bodies heal for what is going to be an all-out war in the Finals. LeBron James has undergone a decade of scrutiny and functions better as an underdog, which is very rare position for a guy who has been in the Finals six years in a row. A playoff series with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, JR Smith and now Channing Frye represents a lot of firepower to fight back against the Warriors three-point heat.
At the end of the Finals, the Warriors will put the cherry on the cake to their 73-win season, or Cleveland will finally get a championship. There are six MVP trophies between Curry and LeBron, two players in their prime.
For a good part of the past decade, the best player in the NBA debate was always swaying in LeBron’s Kobe’s direction. As Kobe made his way out of the NBA, leaving one of the greatest legacies, Steph Curry took over on his own terms. This is going to be LeBron’s sixth straight Finals appearance and Cleveland fans are desperately eager to put a banner up. Golden State, however, is looking to add back-to-back championships to their legacy that seemingly came out of thin air.