By: Tyler Noebe, GZ Sports Report Contributor
We are finally here. In an NBA regular season that seemingly was a waste in the eyes of many fans, we all knew it was going to come to this point. Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers will square off against the Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena. This time last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers made history coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win Cleveland’s first championship in over 50 years. This season, in their 2 game split, the Cavs and Warriors are tied 1-1. The cavs won a Christmas day thriller 109-108, with a Kyrie clutch shot with 3 seconds left. The Warriors responded by blowing out the Cavs a month later, 126-91.
Small Forward: Lebron James vs. Kevin Durant
It’s obvious that this is the biggest matchup in the series and the first that comes to mind when anyone thinks about the Finals. Durant has not given Lebron much stress over the years, as Lebron has a record of 18-5 against him. With Lebron coming off of his most efficient year in his career, I anticipate more of the same dominance. Advantage: Cavaliers
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving vs. Steph Curry
Kyrie Irving is coming off of a Boston series where he was shooting 62%, and dominating from seemingly every angle. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Kyrie suffered an ankle injury at the end of game 4 which no one is talking about. Although he did not miss any game time up to this point, it was a painful looking rolled ankle which I believe will be a nuisance that will bother him throughout the series. Steph Curry on the other hand, is coming into the Finals healthy. This is unlike last year where he sustained his knee injury, to which he was never the same after. Curry is averaging 28.6 points per game in this years playoffs. Advantage: Warriors
Center: Zaza Pachulia vs. Tristan Thompson
Pachulia missed two games in the Western Conference Finals with a heel injury against the Spurs. Like Kyrie, I believe this will slow Zaza down throughout the series. If the Warriors want to play small ball he may be riding the bench quite a bit. Tristan Thompson is almost averaging a double-double while being the glue that holds the Cavs together with his offensive rebounding. This one isn’t close. Advantage: Cavaliers
Klay Thompson Factor:
When Durant joined the Warriors, he was joining a team coming off a record breaking regular season with 73 wins. The big 3 of Klay, Steph and Draymond became the big 4 including Durant. Unfortunately there just is not enough basketball to go around. Klay Thompson has taken a back seat and will not be a factor in this series, much like he has been against the Cavs in their last two finals appearances. His defense will still be proficient, but offensively, we won’t see the Klay Thompson who scored 37 points in one quarter.
The Cavs may get down early and give up the first two games in Oakland, but Lebron is playing the most efficient basketball of his career. I won’t bet against the king at his best.
Prediction: Cavaliers in 7.