NBA Finals Preview and Prediction

Why the Warriors will win.

They are the Warriors.  While I am going to get more into why I think they can win the facts are that they are the two-time defending champions.  They have the two best shooters in the NBA, Draymond Green has returned to form, cementing their legacy as the greatest basketball dynasty since the Bulls of the mid-90’s. 

The Warriors that are able to play are well rested after a four game sweep of the Portland Trailblazers.  Even without Boogie Cousins and Kevin Durant the Warriors should they were a superior team shooting the lights out against a Portland team that seemed to run out of steam after two hard fought early round series against the Thunder and the Nuggets.  The story of the series though was the reemergence of the Splash Brothers both having defining moments in the series.  Steph Curry showed the world that he is still the engine that runs the machine averaging 36.5 PPG and shooting a ridiculous 47% from the field.  

The Warriors will most likely be without Durant for a large portion of this series but they have rediscovered themselves during the Western Conference Finals.  They remember what it’s like to be hungry.  The game plan will be obvious against the Raptors, force Kawhi to give up the ball and make the formally playoff refugee Kyle Lowry make big shots.  The Warriors will most likely play small if Demarcus Cousins is unable to play forcing the Raptors to take Marc Gasol off the floor and running with an inconsistent Serge Ibaka as a small lineup center.  While the Raptors can play fast they won’t be able to stay with the speed of the Warriors, fall down early and that will be it. 

Why the Raptors will win.

The Raptors made a move in the offseason that potentially could cause the entire franchise to begin a rebuild after the 2019 season.  Picking up Kawhi Leonard was a gamble.  That gamble has paid off getting over the hump in the Eastern Conference on the back of their free agent to be. 

Leonard has excelled as a member of the Raptors while also elevating the play of the players around him.  Pascal Siakiam will most likely take home the NBA Most Improved Player Award, while Kyle Lowry has discovered how to win in the playoffs thanks to the KLAW. 

The Raptors have the perfect player to lead them into battle against the “evil” dynasty Golden State Warriors.  Kawhi Leonard never lets his emotions get in the way of his game, something that can’t be said for many previous contenders to the crown.  The Raptors also feature by far the best defense that the Warriors have played so far in the playoffs. If the Raptors get a lead like the Blazers they will have the defense to take control of the game.  Sure Steph Curry is going to get his but they rest of the Warriors will not.  Golden State will need the services of Kevin Durant or this series is going to “The North”.

My Prediction:

No Durant means big problems for the Warriors.  No home court means big problems for the Warriors.  Kawhi Leonard means big problems for the Warriors. 

This series is going to be tougher than people think for the Warriors without Kevin Durant.  I am going to go with the underdog.  Raptors in 7.

Raptors/Cavs- Raptors Best Chance

The Toronto Raptors were able to fend off the Washington Wizards in the first round of the East Conference playoffs setting up a matchup with their nemesis The Cleveland Lebron James’s. Cleveland has ended the Raptors playoff runs two years in a row including an embarassing sweep during last years conference semi-finals .LeBron James averaged 36 points in that sweep for Cleveland and carried his squad through a seven-game battle with the Indiana Pacers in the first round by pouring in 34.4 per game, including 45 in the 105-101 clincher Sunday.

The key to this series is and always will be Lebron James.  Can he continue to hold up a Cavaliers team that has been uninspiring through its first round series.  The evolution of the Raptors game has been a bright spot for them this season leading to a number one seed in the Eastern Conference.  Moving away from the simple pick and roll offense of years past into a more ball movement offense has changed the way the play.  Home court advantage in this series will also be a huge advantage, the Raptors were tied for the best home record in the NBA while at best the Cavaliers were mediocre to say it best.  If the Raptors can jump out to an early 2-0 lead in the series it could deflate the psychie of an already mentally drained king.

The Cavaliers do have some hope, the emergence of Tristan Thompson in game seven could breath some fresh air into a team badly in need of a change. The Cavaliers also will likely have a healthy George Hill for the series, something the missed very much in the first round.  His defensive ability will be huge against the Raptors star front court. But all of the role players in the world mean nothing if Lebron doesn’t carry the load. He has had little help from teammates in the postseason — Kyle Korver was often the Cavs’ second-best player until Tristan Thompson’s revival on sunday— and has had to carry Cleveland to this point. In the Cavs’ first three wins of the series, they needed 46, 32 and 44 points from James to get the W, plus 45 points in a tough game seven.

The Raptors have their best chance to dethrone the East’s top dog and they have to take advantage of this chance right now.  With the young Sixers continuing to get better and the Celtics getting back a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward next year the Raptors window for Eastern Conference greatness is quickly closing.  The question on everyone’s mind is whether the Raptors mentally have what it takes to overcome their past.  Can they forget their history and pull off what many outside of Vegas would consider an upset?  They have the star power, the bench and the experience to do it.  They have to prove it.

Raptors in 7

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