We’ve waited and waited, but at long last the NBA Finals have arrived. I’m not going to waste anymore time whining about the layoff, because there are too many compelling storylines, both for viewers and wagerers to focus on. For example, which team’s “number two” will be more ready to be the second star tonight; Klay Thomspon who just recently cleared concussion protocol, or Kyrie Irving, who is nursing an injury just about everywhere else. Can Draymond Green, though a radically different body type, play the Kawhi Leonard role and flummox The King? Can LeBron conserve enough energy to shift over and erase Steph Curry at key moments of the game? Will DAVE Blatt call timeout when none remain?
Ok, the last one was a joke, but it will be interesting to see how each first year head coach fares in this series.
No matter what, it is going to be compelling and awesome – but what you and everyone else wants to know… who is going to win?
Let’s dive inside some series matchups as well as Game One’s line.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors -6 (Total: 202.5) — NBA Finals GAME ONE
LeBron James will become just the third All-Star to play in five straight NBA Finals tonight (2-2 in the last four) but will his singular greatness be enough to derail one of the most statistically complete teams in NBA history? Forget the “never been here before” narrative. Forget the “jump shooting teams can’t win” narrative. It’s a new day and a new paradigm. People equate “jump shooting” with inefficient and streaky. The Warriors are the number one team in offensive efficiency in the NBA. They equate “jump shooting” with “soft”; the Warriors are the number one DEFENSIVE efficiency team in the NBA as well.
In short, this ain’t your grandfather’s NBA – it isn’t even your older brother’s NBA. Things have changed, and no one better exemplifies the potential of this new world than the Golden State Warriors. Led by MVP Steph Curry, the Warriors are a quick-strike, lethal offensive unit of sharp shooting snipers who can near all create their own shots. They have a rim protector inside in Bogut and everyone else on the floor is a threat to score from anywhere inside 25 feet (and Curry, from anywhere inside the building).
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have warded off the injury curse with efforts from players like Matthew Delevadova, Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. Since the additions of Smith and Shumpert, this team has seemed to gel and click in an odd way few could have predicted. But do they have enough firepower to score with the Warriors? I find it hard to fathom they can get enough big games from their role players if Kyrie can’t be at 100% – and all reports list him at around 80% but ready to go.
Here is an interesting stat: Golden State is shooting only 2% better from behind the arc in the postseason than the Cavaliers and the Cavs are seven percent better from the free throw line. If, and that’s a big IF, they can keep those numbers in a similar constraint, then they have a shot. And of course, they have LeBron, so they have a shot… but I think this series is going the way of the Dubs. They are deeper, healthier and more efficient on both sides of the court.
The home crowd will be raucous tonight – but I am not sure that’ll help the sure to be slightly over amped Warriors. However, look for them to settle down and win the opener. Six feels like a pretty good line – I’d be surprised if it gets too far on either side, but I’ll take the Warriors to narrowly cover and snag Game One.