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NBA Finals Trilogy 2017: Revenge or Repeat?

by Devin Barge, Editor

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For the first time in NBA (National Basketball Association) history, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors complete for the third year in the row. As both teams have had phenomenal seasons in these past three years, this finals series will be one for the record books. Both titans of their conferences, it’ll be interesting to see how this historic finals will unfold.

The Dubs

The Golden State Warriors finished the season at the top of the Western Conference with a record of 67-15. This record doesn’t compare to their historic 71-9 record in the 2015-2016 season, breaking the record for the best regular season with one win more than Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. Even though their record isn’t the same, neither is their team. With the addition of former Oklahoma City Thunder’s small forward, the Warriors have had a great regular season, and an ever better postseason as they enter the finals undefeated at 12-0.

The Land

While the defending champions didn’t top the Eastern Conference, with a record of 51-31, the Cleveland Cavaliers finished in second behind the Boston Celtics. The Cavs are entering the Finals with a postseason record of 11-1. After denying the Warriors their second straight NBA Championship title last year, LeBron James will attempt to lead his team to Cleveland’s second title. With the installation of several players since last season including Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, and Derrick Williams.

Player vs. Player position breakdown:

Point Guard:

Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry

The play makers of their respective sides, Curry and Irving each have had clutch plays of their own that have determined the end results of games. As Kyrie sealed Cleveland’s victory in the 2016 finals, as he drained a much needed 3 point shot giving the Cavs a 92-89 point lead. Along with his game winning shot during the their Christmas day match up with a final score of 109-108. While Curry has had his 3 point frenzy moments, Kyrie Irving overall is a better point guard than the Akron native. Kyrie Irving wins this comparison.

Shooting Guard:

J.R. Smith vs. Klay Thompson

Splash brother, Klay Thompson, has fallen out of the spotlight as Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, but this hasn’t dwindled his abilities on the court. While averaging 23.3 points per game (ppg), Thompson has remained a major factor for Golden State both offensively and defensively. While J.R. Smith has had some blunders like giving up a free dunk while they faced off against the Milwaukee Bucks to Tony Snell last year. Smith has still remained a pillar in the Cavs starting lineup. J.R. Smith is a player that can either win a game or lose a game. His shooting percentages during his 12 year long career have been stagnant. In this match up, Klay Thompson wins this comparison.

Small Forward:

LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant

King James intends to defend his throne as he continues to break records. During the Eastern Conference Finals series, LeBron surpassed NBA legend Michael Jordan on the all-time playoff scoring list. While being 8th in the NBA for averaging 26.4 ppg, James is and has remained one of the most dominant and consistent in the NBA today. Following Durant’s departure from OKC, he went from sharing the spotlight, to owning the spotlight as the Warriors once again, became the super team of the Western Conference. Kevin Durant has proved to be a large benefactor to the team, while averaging 25.1 ppg he as also improved the team’s dynamics as the team’s average ppg from 113.1 points to 116.2 points. LeBron James wins this comparison.

Power Forward:

Tristan Thompson vs. Draymond Green

Draymond Green is essentially the backbone of the Golden State Warriors. He consistently makes defensive plays that have deeply contributed to the success of the team. However, the 6’7” Power Forward wears his heart on his sleeve, which can be dangerous. He’s one of the most emotional players in the game, which his both his greatest attribute as well as his achilles heel. Tristan Thompson is more of an defensive player than he is offensive. With only 4 rebounds and 2 assists in Game 1, Thompson was scoreless as he was a contributing factor to the Cavs loss. Draymond Green wins this comparison.

Center:

Kevin Love vs. ZaZa Pachulia

Both Love and Pachulia are dynamic big men as they retrieve rebounds and record blocks. However both centers struggle to find their composure in the paint. Kevin Love is more dangerous as a shooter then he is down low. From beyond the arc, he’s a threat to any team. However when facing off against an opposing defender, Love struggles to maintain possession as turnovers are forced on his part. Pachulia is similar to J.R. Smith as he is a player that isn’t yet consistent in a ball game. He has proven to be effective in the paint, but is often lost when a defensive rotation occurs on a fast break opportunity, leaving the basket wide open. Kevin Love wins this comparison.

Game 1:

With a slow start to Game 1, both the Warriors and the Cavaliers struggled to put points on the board Both the Cavs and the Warriors did begin to pick up the tempo by the end of the quarter as the Warriors held the lead at 35-30. Both sides came out physical as they constantly battled for the ball down low attempting to draw fouls. At halftime, the Warriors led the Cavaliers by an 8 point lead, with the score of 60-52. The Warriors begin to grow their lead as third quarter is close to halfway over, picking up tempo, while the Cavs struggled with defensive transition and communication. With a final score of 113-91, the Warriors run away with Game 1 at home.

2017 NBA Conference Finals Predictions:

Based upon the performances of each team in Game 1, I believe that the Warriors will come out on top as NBA champions, as they could be projected to win the series in either Game 5 or Game 6. Both offensively and defensively, the Warriors were dominant against the Cavaliers. There are some issues that could prove to be a problem such as finding the correct defensive rotation for Kevin Durant, and how to properly defend LeBron James.

“I think that the finals will end up being a repeat from last year, but with a twist. I think that the Cavs are a strong team, but the Warriors are going to win the series in Game 7” said sophomore Garrett Reese.

“The Golden State Warriors will win this year’s finals because they are a much stronger team following the addition of Kevin Durant. With him, the team’s dynamics have increased overall. In hindsight though any one of these games could be a blowout on either side, but I definitely think that the Warriors will be this year’s NBA champions” said sophomore Jacob Bolger.

 

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NBA Finals Trilogy 2017: Revenge or Repeat?