While we wait for the Western Conference Finals to come to its dramatic close, the Eastern Conference has long been decided. Toronto put up a decent fight for two games, but even the East’s #2 seed was no match for Cleveland. Sadly, Cleveland’s 12-2 record in this year’s NBA Playoff’s may be looked it with an asterisk one day because of the lack of any real threat. Many of the old school greats have put in their two cents about the lack of quality in today’s NBA and it’s hard to argue when you look at the way the Cavs plowed through the field to make it to their second straight Final.
However, the same can’t be said when you look across the country at the teams vying to be the Western Conference Champions. There have been a ton of great series so far in the West and a number of teams have shown they can hang with the NBA’s elite. One thing that stands out in the West is that a number of teams don’t rely on just one star player and that will be the key for whoever makes it to the Finals to face the Cavs.
After all, it takes more than just one person to win a best of seven series, just ask Cleveland. Last year’s loss of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love brought a painful reminder to Cleveland that Lebron James can’t do it by himself. And if this year’s playoffs have been any indication it’s clear that Cleveland is out to show how scary and dominate they can be with a healthy “Big 3”. But if they end up clashing with the Warriors again, they are going to need production from James, Irving, and especially Love. When Kevin Love “took Games 3 and 4” off against Toronto, the Cavs were bullied on the boards and suffered their first two losses of the playoffs. In the Finals, Love’s production, as well as the presence of Tristan Thompson, and JR Smith will be key and possibly the difference between Cleveland winning it all in six games or losing it in five.
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors need to be clicking on all cylinders this year if they want to repeat as champions. The Cavs are finding a lot of room on the perimeter and they can’t afford to slip up defensively and let a guy like JR Smith get hot. If Steph Curry is finally 100%, then he, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson could give Cleveland a ton of problems. But much like their opponents, the production from the bench and work rate of guys like Barnes, Bogut, Speight, and Iguodala are going to determine the outcome of these Finals.
But OKC is a little bit of an easier out for the Cavs, as the Thunder are making a habit of wasting otherwise stellar production from their two main stars. How many times have we seen Westbrook with a triple double or Durant with forty points, only to also see OKC hanging onto a 1 point lead with less than a minute to go. As previously mentioned, they just can’t seem to close (blowing a 3-1 series lead as a case in point) and other than maybe Serge Ibaka, there really isn’t anyone else that opponents need to game plan for.
Whatever the match-up may be, fans should expect to see plenty of scoring both in the paint and from beyond the arc. I fully expect at least six games with the slight edge going to the history chasing Warriors – if they make it out of the West. But if the Thunder win tonight, then I think Cleveland fans will start their celebrations early.
What do you think will happen in tonight’s game? Share with us in the comments below.