The NBA Finals is all set with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. This will be the fourth year in a row that these two teams have competed for a championship. With stars all over the place in LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Stephen Curry, Jeff Green, Draymond Green, Jr Smith, and Klay Thompson. We should be in for another treat this NBA Finals with the best two players in this league going head to head. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors part IV is upon us. I will be breaking down the history between these teams in the finals, how both teams got to the finals, and potential x-factors.
Finals History :
The Cavaliers and the Warriors have meet in the Finals the past 3 years making this year the 4th straight. The Warriors have won two of the three to claim two championships. In the first Finals against eachother the Warriors beat the Cavaliers in Game 6 on Clevelands homecourt to win the championship.
In the first game of the series LeBron James missed a game winning field goal in regulation which sent the game to overtime where Kyrie Irving got injuired and ended up missing the rest of the finals. Kevin Love was also out for the finals after getting hurt in their first round series against the Boston Celtics. Andre Igoudala was the Finals MVP last year after his performance on the offensive and defensive end. The next season when they meet again in the Finals the Warriors won a record 73 games that season. The Warriors had a sensational year setting the NBA Record with a 73 – 9 season and looking primed for another championship run.
The Warriors and Cavaliers played a hell of a series with the Warriors taking a commanding 3 – 1 series lead heading into game 5. The Cavaliers were fully healthy this time around with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love back. The Cavaliers would force a Game 7 in Oracle. The game was back and forth from the the start. LeBron James chased down Andre Igoudala in the last 2 minutes with a monster block resulting in a Kyrie Irving 3 pointer with less than a minute to go.
Cleveland would eventually hang in to win the championship and LeBron accomplished his goal in bringing the trophy back to Akron. LeBron James won Finals MVP with his historic performance in which he almost averaged a tripe double for the Finals. The following season the Warriors landed Kevin Durant in the offseason. The Warriors and Cavaliers meet again in the Finals where the Warriors won the championship in 5 games after Kevin Durant hit one of the biggest shots of his career in Game 3 over LeBron James in the final minute.
Cleveland Cavaliers :
The Cleveland Cavaliers have had an up and down season this year. Cleveland had an interesting offseason in which they traded star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and some draft picks. The trade of Kyrie shocked some people in the league especially for the return they got. Th Cavaliers had an up and down season which resulted in a huge trade deadline.
The Cavaliers traded away Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Dwayne Wade, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, and some draft picks for George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavaliers want a change and wanted to try to get younger and more athletic. The trade was going to be a work in process but with LeBron running the show the Cavaliers knew they had some time to come together. The Cavaliers finished with the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference.
In their first round series against the Indiana Pacers. The Cavaliers had themselves a challenge. The Pacers went into the Q for Game 1 and dominated the Cavaliers from the tip. It was an eye opening for this team with young guys and some inexpierence. The Pacers and Cavaliers went to a Game 7 after a hard fought 6 games. The Cavaliers were carried on the shoulders of LeBron James for the entire series and it was the same in Game 7 which ended up being to much for the Pacers to overcome.
LeBron James averaged 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists per game while playing 41 minutes per game. Then the Cavaliers went on to the second round where they played the Toronto Raptors who had a remarkable season finishing 1st in the East. The Cavaliers made it look easy against the Raptors after the overtime win in Game 1. The Cavaliers swept the Raptors in a matchup that has favored the Cavaliers for the past couple years.
Eastern Conference Finals :
The Cavaliers then had one more abstacle to get through in order to make the Finals for the 4th consecutive year and that was the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were young and hunry and were waiting for this oppurtunity. The Celtics were shorthanded in missing their all stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Boston gave the Cavaliers everything they could in winning their first 3 home games and taking this series to a Game 7. The game was back and forth from the start. Without Kevin Love, the Cavaliers needed their role players to step up. LeBron came out of the gate ready to play and put on another one of his remarkable performances. He also got help from Jeff Green who started in place of Kevin Love. The Cavaliers ended up pulling away late to win the series but LeBron was gassed and tired.
Golden State Warriors :
The Golden State Warriors started of the season with the mindset of another championship run. The Warriors added some new pieces to their bench in Nick Young, Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, and giving more minutes to Kevon Looney. They had a nice year, finishing 2nd in the West behind the Houston Rockets. The Warriors went through some injuries during the regular season with their star players but figured out ways to win.
In the first round of the playoffs the Warriors were matched up with the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors were without Steph Curry for the entire first round but made easy work of the Spurs. The Spurs who were also without their franchise player Kawhi Leonard. The Warriors won in 5 games on their way to the second round against the New Orleans Pelicans who upset the Portland Trailblazers. They got Steph Curry back in the second round and he made his presesnce felt early. The Warriors deafeted the Pelicans in 5 game to move onto the Western Conference Finals.
Western Conference Finals :
The Warriors would have the oppurtunity against the Rockets to make it to the NBA Finals for the 4th consecutive year. The Rockets and Warriors was the matchup that everyone wanted to see since the begining of the season. The Rockets owner was very vocal all season long that this team was built to dethrone the Warriors and they knew it would come down to that. The Warriors stole Game 1 in Houston with a dominating performance from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. They took away the role players and it was all James Harden who scored 41 points. The Warriors made it known that they were up for the challenge. In Game 2 was a different story in that the Rockets role players showed up big time. PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, and Trevor Ariza were huge in Game 2 giving the Rockets a much needed win.
In Game 3 the Rockets and Warriors were back and forth in the first half. In the second half the Warriors came out and dominate in which Steph Curry went 7 – 7 from the field in the third quarter. The Warriors ran away with the game and ended up winning by 41 points. In Game 4 and Game 5 the games went down to the wire and the Warriors faded away in the fourth quarter giving the Rockets 2 huge wins. The Rockets were without Andre Igoudala for the final 4 games of the series. In Game 6 the Warriors were facing elimination and were down by 10 at halftime. The third quarter has been the Warriors calling card all season long and it was no different with the Warriors outscoring the Rockets 33 – 16 in the third quarter.
The Warriors outscored the Rocket 64 – 25 in the second half of Game 6 resulting in a Game 7 in Houston. Game 7 was the same as Game 6 the Warriors struggled in the first half and after halftime the Warriors dominated the rest of the game. The Rockets were without star Chris Paul the final 2 games after suffering a hamstring injury in Game 5. The Rockets missed 27 straight 3 pointers in Game 7 setting a new NBA record for misses.
Cleveland Cavaliers :
JR Smith : JR Smith has had a rough playoffs so far this year. If the Cavaliers want to compete in the Finals they are going to need everyone on their roster to contribute. JR is a guy who can light up the scoreboard and score in bunches. Although, he also is a guy who can shoot you out of a game with his poor shot selection. If JR can be effective in this series on the offensive and defensive end then it gives the Cavaliers a chance. JR Smith needs to be another option for this team with Kevin Love in the concussion protocal.
George Hill : George Hill is an all star in this league and has the ability to be a contibutor. George Hill could be a huge piece for the Cavaliers in the Finals. He can create for himself while being a high volume shooter and is one of the better defenders at the guard position in the NBA. Hill is going to be the main defender on Steph Curry in this series and hes going to have to try to limit Curry. Hill is also going to have to score the ball to take some pressure off of LeBron James.
Golden State Warriors :
Jordan Bell : Jordan Bell is a rookie and was a steal for the Warriors. Jordan Bell hasn’t played much in these playoffs but when his number was called against the Rockets he responded. Bell is a versitale forward/center and may be a nice piece for the Warriors in the Finals. Bell can switch on defense and guard any position effectively. Jordan brings the energy and hustle every posession which gets the crowd and his teammates going. Jordan could also minimize Tristian Thompson, Kevin Love, or Larry Nance Jr in this series on the boards with his hustle and energy.
Draymond Green : Draymond Green is the fourth all star on the Warriors but could be the most important. Green is the perfect player on Golden State with his versatility and high basketball IQ. Draymond is their heart and soul and their anchor for everthing. His versatility on the defensive end with the switching and his rebounding skills. He can cover anyone on the floor with the switching. His offense could be the deciding factor is this series. He has been struggling from the floor in the playoffs but he moves the ball and finds the cutters. If Green can get his shot to start falling then it could open up the floor for the Warriors.
The Warriors are going to be to much for the Cavaliers. LeBron James is going to come out and leave everything on the floor every game. He is going to need help from the role players on his team to give them a chance. LeBron is the greatest player of his generation and he won’t go down without a fight. Having guys like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Igoudala to guard LeBron at different times in this series will help.
The Warriors seemed to have figured things out lately with the ball movement and getting back to who they are. The Cavaliers will need a heroic effort from James, yet again. The role players will also have to play a major part in these Finals to have a chance. The Warriors have depth and a roster that has been together for the past couple of years. They have been in this situation and knows what it takes to win a championship. The Warriors will win this series in 5 games but LeBron will have another remarkable Finals.