We’ve reached the finale of the 2017-18 NBA season, and this year’s Finals look exactly like the last three. Cleveland and Golden State will face off for the fourth straight year, but this version won’t look quite the same. The Warriors haven’t dominated their opponents like they did in their first year after adding Kevin Durant, and LeBron has narrowly escaped Eastern Conference opponents in his most difficult run to the Finals. Nevertheless, NBA fans are in for an epic showdown between some of the greatest players in the world.
The Cavs made multiple trades this season, dealing Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade away and receiving guys like Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance, and Kyle Korver. While those moves may have looked good on paper, they didn’t exactly pan out. Cleveland finished with a 50-32 record, putting them in fourth place in the East. They went on to beat Indiana in seven games, Toronto in four, and then Boston in seven. LeBron James has had to put up monster numbers for his team to advance, averaging an incredible 34 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists per game on 50% shooting in the postseason. Kyle Korver has also stepped up, averaging 10 points per game on 45% shooting from three. Kevin Love, the Cavaliers other All-Star, is currently out with a concussion and questionable for Game 1 on Thursday. If he can’t return right away, guys like Jeff Green and Tristan Thompson will have to shoulder that scoring load.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors haven’t had the storybook season that many expected from them, but they’ve reached the Finals again. Their 58-24 record landed them in second place in the West, a mark they achieved thanks to new additions such as Jordan Bell, Nick Young, and Quinn Cook. They went on to beat the Spurs and Pelicans easily before barely skating past the Houston Rockets in seven games. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant have struggled at times, but Stephen Curry returned from his injury with a vengeance and is averaging 25 points per game in the playoffs. When those three players shoot well, Golden State is nearly unstoppable. Not only that, but they’ve consistently held teams such as Houston and New Orleans under 100 points with their stellar perimeter defense. The Dubs are the heavy favorites to win the Finals, so they should win in 4-5 games if they play like they did last year.
It’s difficult to count out LeBron James, but Cleveland’s roster is too depleted for them to compete with the Warriors this year. I’ll take Golden State to win in five games, with the Cavs only win coming in Game 3 behind a monster performance from LeBron.