We have ourselves the 2017 NBA Finals. Finally. After all of the hype from last summer, the Cleveland Cavs & Golden State Warriors will meet for the third time in a row. This has never happened before & if the NBA keeps at this rate, they may get together next year. This matchup headlines the 2017 NBA Finals Preview.
Looking at the series on paper, the matchups are fairly even. Both the Cavs & Warriors had an easy road through the NBA Playoffs, with the Cavs losing only one game. That game came in game 3 against the Boston Celtics in the East Finals. The Warriors have swept through the playoffs completely. By the time the series kicks off on Thursday, both teams will have had about a week off.
2017 NBA Finals Preview – Which Team Will Handle Layoff Better?
This part of it should go to the Cavs. The Cavs are led by LeBron James, a guy who won’t let the team get complacent at all. James has been to the NBA Finals the last 6 years, and will know how to keep everyone focused in. Ty Lue is officially the coach of the team, but LeBron clearly is the leader.
Look for Cleveland to have the chip on their shoulder early on being the underdog. Golden State will be ready for the game with it being at home, but rust is rust no matter what. No amount of practice can simulate a true game situation. Plus, the Warriors have not had to handle adversity on the court this playoff year, sweeping through the playoffs.
Golden State could get an extra motivation if head coach Steve Kerr is back on the sidelines. Kerr has dealt with major back issues all season long, keeping him off the sidelines for most of the playoffs. Mike Brown, the Cavs former coach, has been guiding the team through the run lately, but the Warriors are a team that doesn’t have to have someone watching over them all the time. They have strong leadership on the court & are disciplined off of it. We will attack that now.
Kerr could only lead the team so far if not healthy. LeBron will have no problem giving that on-court guidance through the peaks & valleys that will happen during a game. With the series being about revenge, dynasties & a rivalry that has truly grown into one of the best in sports, the Cavs have the advantage of having the best chance to overcome rust faster, even in a hostile environment like Oracle Arena.
2017 NBA Finals Preview – Matchups
As for any sport, the game is about matchups. Throughout the entire series, the matchups will change as the games and in-game situations will dictate. The individual matchups have been drastically enhanced by the addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors this year.
Durant, who had played his entire career in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, wanted to go to a place where he could have a better chance to win a championship. Durant played alongside one of the best players in the league & possible MVP Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is one of the elite players in the game, but there is always a hard time when two players want to be alpha dogs late in games. Most great teams know who to get the ball to late, and OKC didn’t always have that identity.
Durant & the Thunder lost in game 7 of the NBA West Finals last year to the Warriors. Many fans had an issue with this because of KD going to the enemy. The enemy is getting the last laugh now.
2017 NBA Finals Preview – Guards
There isn’t a question that Kyrie Irving & Steph Curry are two of the top point guards in the game today. While people will say Harden & Westbrook are the MVPs of the NBA, Irving & Curry go for championships.
Curry’s game changed a bit this year with the addition of Durant. During the early part of the season, Curry deferred a lot to get KD involved. When Durant went out with an injury towards the end of the year, Steph started to get his normal game back. He is deadly from the 3-point range, and he may be more dangerous now that teams can’t double team him at all.
If Steph is having a rough night from deep, the ball can be moved over to Klay Thompson. Thompson has been a bit of a forgotten player with Green, Curry & KD there, but Klay is as good as any shooter in NBA history. Look for the Cavs to counter this by having Iman Shumpert guarding him and getting a hand in his face much more.
For Kyrie & Steph, the offensive side goes to Steph, but Kyrie will have the advantage against Steph’s defense. Kyrie, though offensively talented as anyone, plays more of the true point guard position. At times, look for LeBron to switch off at times and possibly take Curry just to throw him off.
Overall, the guard position will go to Golden State slightly just because of the overall threats around the court.
2017 NBA Finals Preview – Forwards
This is another area where the level of difference will be slim. The advantage should go to Cleveland here due to LeBron James & Kevin Love. James, other than being the top player in the world, is physically more dominant than Durant or Draymond Green. Neither guy will back down to LeBron, but that doesn’t mean LeBron won’t be motivated to take on the challenge.
Last year, Green got the best of LeBron for a good portion until his suspension, which changed the entire series. The Cavs came back from being 3-1 down to win the series in 7, something the Warriors & their fans haven’t forgotten about. Many fans believe that had Green not been suspended, the Warriors win consecutive championships.
Green has been much calmer this year, and has a dominant big right by him who can make big shots in Durant. James & Love will take turns guarding Durant throughout the series, and those matchups should be even. KD & Green will need to extend themselves to guard Love & James from the outside as well as the inside, and vice versa.
The Cavs should have the advantage here due to being able to play better in the half court setup late in games. James & Love can both back down well and take the ball to the cup much more efficently than the Golden State lineup.
2017 NBA Finals Preview – Overall
From an overall standpoint, this should be another 7 game series. Both teams are very close in many areas. The center & bench positions are split down the middle, hence why we didn’t cover those areas. Fans know that at the end, this series will be dominated by stars. By guys who want to cement their legacies.
While this series could go either way across the board, the Warriors have a slight advantage going in. Durant being another option will be huge for the series. If Draymond can be a force offensively, it will be hard for Cleveland to have Love & Tristan Thompson. They will be forced to constantly go from the basket, opening up the paint.