This is unprecedented in sport – the same two teams are competing for the NBA championship for the 4th consecutive year. Never happened before.
The Golden State Warriors are about stability and continuity. They have had the same 3 all-stars – Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Steph Curry – for many years, and after their Finals loss in 2016 they added Kevin Durant, another top 5 player.
Almost nothing else has changed about them in 5 years. The Warriors continue to be very good on both sides of the ball, very gimmicky, and very easy to hate.
On the Cleveland Cavaliers side of this battle, we have Lebron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, JR Smith… and a completely new cast almost every year. The Cavaliers like to rebuild their roster mid-season, and this season they shipped out half of their roster just three months ago.
Defying odds in each of those years, the Cavaliers get it together in time to come out of the East. Sometimes it’s easier than 2018.
But then the real doubt begins. Every year the Cavs aren’t given a chance against the West, despite having the best player.
Every year the Cavs are told they can’t hope to compete with the mighty Warriors.
2015 – Year 1 – The Cavs lost both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to season ending injuries, and despite playing amazing basketball, couldn’t put the Warriors away relying on bench players like Matt Delavedova playing huge minutes. Warriors win 4-2.
2016 – Year 2 – The Cavs had Kyrie and Love healthy but went down 1-3 before storming back and grabbing the title on the Warriors home floor. Draymond Green missed a game, with a suspension, but to imply that losing a single player for a single game is what cost the Warriors the series is ludicrous. Cavs win 4-3.
2017 – Year 3 – The Cavs were healthy but not playing well. Kyrie was not happy. They were barely tested coming out of the East, and their new shooting ace Kyle Korver went ice cold in crunch time. With JR Smith also clanking bricks, the Cavs had little offense and succumbed without much fight. Warriors win 4-1.
2018? – It will still come down to the Cavs shooters. If Korver and JR are hitting, Cavs can hang. Lebron will do his thing but his thing relies getting 10-15 assists that generate 30+ points from his shooters. He usually makes the passes but if those guys aren’t hitting the Cavs get in trouble. Lebron might be Superman but his 40-8-8 games aren’t as effective as his 33-15-10 games.
Also consider that the 2018 Warriors look more flawed than usual. Their bench is suspect and they have developed a habit of coughing up close games due to stupid mistakes.
New Cavs PG George Hill has shown to be an effective defender of Curry. If Hill can still get his offense going while slowing down Steph, that’s a possible advantage for the Cavs.
If the Warriors are rolling – playing smart, spreading the floor, hitting crazy shots – I see them taking this series 4-2, no matter what the Cavs do or don’t do.
But if the Warriors leave an opening – as they have done often this year – and Korver + JR are hitting 3’s…. watch out world.
The Cavs (and Lebron) are constantly underrated and dismissed. The Warriors’ gimmicky brand of offensive basketball is usually overrated. Just like in 2016 when no-one nationally believed in the Cavs until game 6, this could surprise some people.
My head says Warriors 4-2.
My heart says Cavs 4-3, again, if JR Smith and Kyle Korver get in a shooting match. LBJ will continue to average his triple double this playoffs.
Boy I wish I had some money to put on them given the huge underdog status Vegas has blessed the Cavs with.