May 31, 2017
This year’s NBA Finals is historic, as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are meeting for the third straight year on June 1.
Golden State won the first meeting in 2015 in six games, as Cleveland’s Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were both out with injuries. LeBron James pushed the series as far as he could on his own, but he lost his fourth NBA Finals.
Cleveland had its revenge in 2016 when James won his third NBA Finals after erasing the Warriors’ 3-1 lead, winning in seven games. In back-to-back finals, James willed his team to win, making him as close to Michael Jordan as he ever has been in his career.
At some point James might pass Jordan in the eyes of the fans, but more than likely he will stay behind His Airness. Of course, his last two final appearances have made everyone forget about “The Decision” to join the Miami Heat. LeBron’s play in the 2015 and 2016 finals were truly legendary.
Now, The King faces Golden State again, but this time the Warriors have added Kevin Durant to its stacked roster of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Cleveland isn’t star poor with James, Love and Irving.
Golden State still hasn’t lost in these playoffs, as they have mostly crushed their opponents in three straight sweeps. The Warriors are the first team to enter the NBA Finals without a loss in the first three rounds.
Cleveland isn’t too shabby, with a 12-1 record heading into the finals. The lone loss was in the Eastern Conference Finals. James is playing in his seventh straight NBA Finals and eighth overall.
Golden State is a big favorite to win this finals matchup, and LeBron hasn’t been this big of an underdog since his first finals appearance against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. In that series, San Antonio swept James and the Cavaliers.
If the Warriors can accomplish the sweep, they will be looking to pull off a perfect 16-0 playoff record. It seems highly unlikely that James would let himself get swept in a final again this late in his career.
It would be shocking if he couldn’t find some way to win at least one game if not two games. But there is some motivation for the Warriors to sweep James: He did ruin their historic 73-win season in 2016 when he denied Golden State the title.
As fans we can only hope for the seven-game thriller we received last year. Cleveland will try to play lockdown defense as Golden State bombs away three point shots as it runs and guns.
The Warriors look to be on a mission, and it is possible that James won’t be able to derail that mission. In my personal opinion, Golden State is going to win this series in five games.
The 2017 NBA Finals begin on Thursday, June 1, at 8 p.m. on ABC.