#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #1 Golden State Warriors (-240)
What seemed like a predetermined outcome before the season has finally arrived. The Cavaliers will face the Warriors in the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year, with each team having won one of the previous two championships. There are plenty of story lines to watch for in these Finals. Cleveland will try to defend it’s title while Golden State seeks revenge after blowing a 3-1 lead last year. Kevin Durant is looking for his first championship in his first year with the Warriors, while Steph Curry is looking to avoid another disappointing Finals performance. Lebron is looking to even up his Finals record at 4-4 as he continues to chase the ghost of Jordan. With injuries and suspensions hovering around the last two Finals matchups, the rubber match may finally deliver the clean and hard fought matchup that NBA fans have been waiting for.
The Cavaliers are heading into the Finals as underdogs, so if they’re going to have a chance, their trio of All Stars will have to step up big time. The Warriors will no doubt give a lot of attention to Lebron while on defense, so Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will have to consistently hit shots off of the open looks they will get as a result of Lebron double teams. Lebron will have to hit some jump shots as well, since players like Durant, Draymond Green, and Javale McGee will be there to protect the rim and keep Lebron from consistently driving to the hole. The key for the Warriors will be to play aggressive defense but not get into foul trouble early. The Cavs second unit will need to step up as well. Players like Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and JR Smith can provide a much needed spark off the bench and will have to keep pace with a very good Warriors bench if they want to be competitive for the entire game.
For the Warriors, the game plan is pretty simple: Get the ball to your best players and let them go to work. With a multitude of options, the Warriors are deadly on the offensive side of the ball. After leading the NBA in points during the regular season, they’ve put up even more in the playoffs and are outscoring teams by an NBA record 16 points per game en route to the first 12-0 start in NBA postseason history. Kevin Durant, one of the elite scorers in the game, has made the Warriors better on defense as well. Sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have the ability to heat up from 3 at any point, and versatile big man Draymond Green can defend all positions on the floor. Then you add in bench players like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Javale McGee, and you have a Warriors team that simply looks unstoppable.
PREDICTION: GOLDEN STATE DEFEATS CLEVELAND IN 6 GAMES
FINALS MVP: KEVIN DURANT
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