Let’s face it—the nation has been waiting since last year’s Finals to see this series again. To all the experts and fans out there who tried to be clever and stick it to the status quo by picking teams other than the Cavs and Warriors to reach the NBA Finals, stop it. NBA fans should know that the best teams tend to win a seven-game series, and these are clearly the two best teams in the league. End this silly rebellion and climb aboard the bandwagon—it’s time for Cavs-Warriors Part III.
The Warriors are heavily favored in this series, as they should be—they start four All-Stars and have only lost one game since March 11th. Do not let this fool you. This is no David vs. Goliath story. Earlier this week, Kevin Love scoffed at the notion that the Cavs were the “underdog” in this series, and Steve Kerr responded in agreement by stating “they’re the champions. We’re not.” Cleveland is anything but an underdog, and will come out ready to defend their title. Here are the keys to a Golden State victory.
How could Mike Brown be a key to this series if the Warriors have gone 12-0 in the postseason, all with relative ease? Seems like he has done a pretty darn good job so far. However, the three teams Golden State faced were the 8th seeded Trailblazers, a Jazz team without George Hill and the Spurs, minus Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. The Warriors could have reached the Finals without a coach, but they now face a different beast in the Cavs. Though territory is familiar to the Warriors, Brown will be in the championship spotlight. He will have to make in-game adjustments—throw double teams at LeBron, switch up matchups and work the pick and roll. Most importantly, he must instill an attitude into this year’s Warriors team that they have what it takes to finish the fight. The world is watching, Mr. Brown.
Guard the three
Most would believe that the three ball belongs to the Warriors. Curry has revolutionized the idea of the three-point shot, Klay Thompson is a perennial sharpshooter, Draymond can get hot from behind the arc, and now you throw in Kevin Durant? To the surprise of many it is actually the Cavs that have had the best three-point percentage thus far in the playoffs, shooting 43.5%, whereas the Warriors are only managing 38.9% from beyond the arc. In order for Golden State to lower Cleveland’s percentage they must force the Cavs shooters inside, step up on Kyle Korver and JR Smith, make them put the basketball on the ground and work the help defense, and above all, hope that LeBron never heats up from downtown.
Get Klay going
“Klay Thompson, you’re needed at Oracle Arena for the NBA Finals.”
To preface this section, we get it—when you have four superstars in your starting lineup someone is not going to get their piece of the pie. In this case that happens to be Thompson. He’s only averaging 14.4 points per game in the playoffs, and has only eclipsed 20 in two games. Even without scoring much Thompson is still failing to put up numbers in other statistical categories. He’s only averaging two assists per game in the playoffs. Thompson does not need to be the prolific scorer he used to be, but the Warriors will need him to contribute in other areas if they want to have success against the Cavs.
Show up in the clutch
This is the most important key to the Warriors walking away with the NBA Championship—they had trouble closing games throughout the season. Nine of their fifteen losses came by single digits, and they lost all three OT games they played. Now, it’s hard to criticize them too harshly, given they only lost a total of 15 games all season, but that’s what analysts do—they nitpick at the great teams when there is little else to critique. After a year of being the butt of “blowing-a-3-1-lead” jokes, they can cast off the demons by delivering in the clutch in June.