It’s been lurking on our tubes and interwebs for eight days. Actually, more like the past eight months.
Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers version III — The King versus KD, Kyrie versus Steph, Kevin Love versus Draymond Green.
Two years ago, the Warriors took down the short-handed Cavaliers in six games.
Last year, the fully-loaded Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series, and make the Warriors historic 73-win season a mere footnote in sports history.
In response to their epic collapse, Golden State signed the second best player on the planet, Kevin Durant, and now it’s time for the rubber match.
Durant is the best place to start any preview on this series since his legacy, more than anyone else’s, is on the line: If the Warriors lose, KD is nothing more than a great scorer who can’t win; basically, a glorified Carmelo Anthony, the “Ice Man” George Gervin without the cool nickname or “Pistol” Pete Maravich without the nickname or floppy socks.
If the Warriors win, however, Durant will have his first ring and is firmly the second-best player of his generation
The greatest player of this generation, LeBron James, has plenty on the line as well. If King James loses, his kingdom will always be owned by Michael Jordan, probably Magic Johnson and even potentially Kobe Bryant.
If the Cavs win, people may have to get comfortable with the fact that LeBron is the greatest basketball player ever – Centers not included because if they were, it would be Kareem Abdul Jabbar whether Cleveland won or not.
Beyond the megastars James and Durant, this series is loaded with all-stars. Two-time MVP Steph Curry, Green and Klay Thompson would be the best player on most teams in the league.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving may be better than all those guys, and Kevin Love is a perennial all-star.
So who wins and why?
Judging on the regular season, Golden State would be a clear favorite. They led the league in scoring, point differential and wins; whereas, the Cavaliers didn’t even win the Eastern Conference.
Of course Cleveland proved last year that the regular season doesn’t matter, and both teams have been equally dominant in the playoffs going a combined 24-1 (Cleveland lost one game to the Celtics).
If Cleveland is going to win, three things must happen:
1) Kyrie Irving must be better than Steph Curry.
2) Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson must be better than JaVale McGee.
3) LeBron James must refuse to lose – last year, when all else failed, James took the series over.
If Golden State is going to win, these three things must happen:
1) Curry and Durant can’t shrink from the moment – as great as both players have been, they have shown a tendency to shy away when the lights are brightest.
2) They have to knock down midrange jump shots – Cleveland’s comeback last year was a direct result of them not having to guard Harrison Barnes because he couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn from beyond 10 feet. That allowed Cleveland’s defense to focus on the Warriors’ other scorers.
3) Draymond Green has to keep his head in the game – besides being the top defensive player in the league, Draymond is the heart and soul of the Warriors. When he is on the floor and on the right side of the edge between motivated and crazy, the Warriors are truly unbeatable. When he’s on the wrong side of that line, they break apart like wet paper.
With that, I think Green not only stays on the court, he’ll be the series MVP. At the end of the day, Golden State has one too many bullets in their gun for even King James to handle, and will win this series in six games.
However, don’t be surprised if the Cavs win Game 1. Golden State is a rhythm team, and nothing stops rhythm like an eight-day hiatus.
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