The world seems bothered by the fourth straight matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. As the twitter world screams for diversity I am intrigued by this matchup. I am intrigued because this could be the potential defining moment for a player and a team.
If the Cavaliers win Lebron James will have his first true argument that he is truly the greatest player ever to play the game. The Cavaliers currently sit as one of the biggest underdogs in 15 years heading into the finals. Gone is Kyrie Irving — he averaged 29.4 points per game in last year’s series— and the role players that Cleveland brought in have mostly been flops. Rodney Hood has been relegated to the bench, and Jordan Clarkson has shot 30.6 percent from the field in the playoffs. Larry Nance Jr. has been effective as an energy guy off the bench, and George Hill has been a solid starter, though he’s been inconsistent. Others returning players from the 2017 Cavaliers team have been a shell of their former selves. Kyler Korver, Tristan Thompson and JR Smith bring finals experience but other they will have to play vital roles to have a chance to pull off this epic upset.
If the Warriors can pull off their third championship in four years they can cement themselves as a dynasty. This is not the same Warriors team the cruised into the finals in 2017 at 12-0. Kevin Durant has been has not been the dominant MVP of last season. He has averaged 29.0 points, but his postseason shooting has been all-too human, at 47.9 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from the 3-point line. Don’t discount the importance of Durant’s defense, either, especially if Andre Iguadola’s leg contusion keeps him sidelined. Iguodala usually gets the lion’s share of LeBron duties when these teams collide, but Durant could be one of the primary options if Iggy can’t go. The Warriors will also have an interesting matchup for Steph Curry against veteran George Hill. Hill surprisingly has a 10-4 career record against Curry while also holding a better shooting percentage in those matchups. If Curry does struggle the Warriors will have to look to their other two All- Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to take on bigger roles.
This matchup has a clear advantage for the Warriors. They have the depth and star power to sweep this series. But there has almost been a sense of overconfidence for the Warriors all season. When the Warriors struggle they let it effect their emotions. Durant will most likely be taking on the task of holding down the force that is Lebron James. If he struggles to do so, will that effect his offensive game? This Warriors team also lacks the proven depth of the past. Relying on Kevin Looney, Quinn Cook and Swaggy P to provide solid minutes off the bench is a serious question mark.
This is the finals everyone expected to see. It is easy to say the Warriors will sweep with ease. But let’s not jump to conclusions until the games are played. Lebron has had a chance to rest for a few days and his legacy is on the line. I think he can carry them to at least one victory. I would consider myself a Lebron hater, but that does not mean I do not respect the game that masterful performances I have seen in these playoffs. The Cavaliers do not have the depth to compete with the historically talented Warriors but I am excited to see how this series plays out.