Cavaliers-Warriors Series Preview
The sequel for which everyone longed is happening. For the second straight year, Golden State and Cleveland are ready to collide in the NBA Finals.
According to handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv, Round 2 stands to unfold in a familiar fashion. After surging past Oklahoma City last night, 96-88, the Warriors now receive odds of -210 to capture another title. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, embody +175 underdogs.
Both teams managed to overcome significant challenges in the previous round. The Thunder obviously pushed Steve Kerr’s club to the brink of elimination. Stephen Curry came to the rescue, though, canning seven 3-pointers in Game 7. The two-time MVP’s health appears just fine following a right knee sprain that forced him to miss 15 days early in the playoffs.
But while Curry rose to the occasion at the most crucial time, certain members of the supporting cast must raise their production against the Cavs. Draymond Green disappeared for stretches of the West finals, and Harrison Barnes’ numbers also lagged behind his regular-season pace. Conversely, Klay Thompson has shot the lights out at every turn and relished the challenge of blanketing the opposition’s top threat.
Cleveland expertly spread the wealth to sweep the Pistons and Hawks in the East. The Raptors stole two straight contests in Canada, but Tyronn Lue’s outfit proceeded to return to basics as the action shifted back to Quicken Loans Arena. With LeBron James scoring and distributing in equal measure, Toronto simply couldn’t contain the Cavaliers’ whole band. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith all took turns carrying the offensive load. Channing Frye gradually emerged as a feared perimeter weapon off the bench, too.
Nonetheless, this series pivots on which iconic star can perform like a legend. Lue will probably rely on a combination of Irving, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova to “contain” Curry. When the sharpshooter wants 30-plus, however, he’ll reach that figure. Similarly, James’ ever-deadly inside-outside game promises to flummox Golden State. Is Andre Iguodala still capable of sticking with No. 23 for 48 minutes? It’s a lot to ask for a repeat of last year’s NBA Finals MVP turn.
James and Cleveland want to use dribble penetration to set up open looks for a devastating array of gunners. Sound familiar? These organizations actually mirror each other in a multitude of ways, but the Warriors have the ability to lean on that championship experience when necessary. Injuries prevented Love and Irving from even assuming the sport’s biggest stage in 2015-16. In a battle for the ages, Oracle Arena’s finest gain the slightest of nods at present.
NBA FINALS FREE PICK: WARRIORS -210