2018 NBA Finals shootaround

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NBA Finals Predictions

Can Sariöz:

The rule of thumb is that sequels are always worse than the first one, and the fourth edition of Warriors-Cavaliers is just lazy screenwriting for the end of a unexpectedly exciting season.

The Warriors dodged a bullet again this year with Chris Paul’s injury on their way to a back-to-back title. Of course, Andre Iguodala’s injury is important for the Warriors, but whether or not he plays will only have an effect on the game count, if anything.

LeBron James has been exceptional, and even though many believe he doesn’t have help, he has one of the best 3-point shooters in history in Kyle Korver and a perennial all-star in Kevin Love. If LeBron keeps up his exceptional performance with good outside shooting, the Cavs might have a chance to win one game. The Warriors will celebrate the championship with their fans, and ticket revenue for Game 5 will be a good extra benefit for the organization.

By the way, it’s important to point out that the Rockets would also have won the series if they had beaten the Warriors at home in Game 7. The East might not be as bad as in previous years, but it is definitely worse than the West. I would only expect the Cavs, Celtics or 76ers to advance to the second round and no further if they were on the other side of the country.

If the Warriors want the sweep bad enough and Iggy gets back in the game, their summer vacation could come rather early, but the Cavaliers may will their way to slow the process.

Warriors in five.

 

Leo Xie:

In a way, their conference final opponents were both very similar to the opponent they now face. The isolation-happy Rockets are a more extreme version of Cleveland’s run-everything-through-James offense. The Celtics are long and versatile on defense, just like the Warriors.

Except everything else is so different and so worrying for these poor Cavaliers.

The Warriors are not the brick-house-building Celtics on the offensive end. The Cavaliers are not the tenacious long-armed Rockets on the defensive end.

Can the Cavaliers copy the Rockets’ switch-heavy blueprint on defense, which held the Warriors to an average of only 97 points per game in the three Houston wins? They can certainly try. All I envision is barbecue chicken though — Kevin Durant shooting over Cleveland guards and Stephen Curry toying with the Cleveland bigs.

If they don’t simply try to fight around all the movement, have fun watching the Warriors’ layup line and 3-point shooting contest, Cleveland.

It would be a feat of ineffable proportions for one of the the greatest players in history to defeat one of the greatest teams of all time. Taking one game from this team would be a monumental achievement in itself. Unless the Cavaliers find a way to glue Curry to James on defense, I don’t see the latter happening.

Cavs-Dubs have ended in five (2017), six (2015) and seven (2016). It’s about time for the brooms — to sweep away both LeBron from the Cavs and this Cavs-Warriors matchup forever.

Warriors in four.

(P.S., the Stanley Cup Final will be more competitive.)

 

Lawrence Zhao:

I don’t really see how this series plays out any differently from last year’s finals.

The Warriors won in five then, too, and honestly, the 2017 Cavs lineup was objectively better with the likes of Kyrie Irving. None of Cleveland’s role players can be relied upon to put up significant numbers, so James has to basically outscore the Hamptons Five lineup all on his own. Even though Iguodala is questionable for Game 1, Love is just as questionable.

Not having Love means less of a low-post presence for the Cavs and less spacing on the offensive end without his shooting ability. On the other hand, Iguodala’s replacement, Kevon Looney, showed at times that he has the speed to defend James Harden. Looney’s agility, combined with his size, makes him a perfect defender to match up against LeBron.

In turn, that’ll take pressure off of Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant on the defensive end, allowing them to put up the All-Star numbers that we’re used to from them. Furthermore, Curry appeared to find his rhythm again toward the end of the series against Houston, only spelling further trouble for Cleveland’s backcourt, which struggled in its series against Boston.

The only reason why I’m not calling a sweep is that I don’t want to bet against The King, who has put together one of the greatest playoff runs in NBA history. But alas, the Warriors will be victorious for the third time in four years.

Warriors in five.