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Wyatt’s NBA Finals Preview

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NBA FINALS PREVIEW

Wyatt Krueger

The long NBA season that many knew the outcome to is finally here. Three top-five players in the NBA, a total of seven All-Stars faceoff tonight, as the 2017 NBA finals kickoff with Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, two teams that have lost a record low of one game throughout the entire playoffs so far. These two teams have faced each other the past two seasons in the finals, the first in 2015 with the Warriors dominating and winning in six games, and last years ending in a Cavalier victory in seven games, after the Warriors led the series 3-1.

These teams are very different from the past two seasons, both with style of play and personnel, so here are a few of the key points and matchups to look at when before watching what many are anticipating to be the best NBA finals of all time.

  1. Who will win the Steph Curry vs Kyrie Irving matchup?

Steph Curry has been a top five player in the league for the past three seasons, he is the winner of the last two MVP awards, and has been seemingly unstoppable with his ability to shoot and handle the ball. The current asterisk in Steph’s career now has been how he has performed in the Finals, when the lights are the brightest of course. In last year’s finals, he was clearly outplayed by Kyrie Irving throughout the series, and Kyrie hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history to seal the deal in game seven, and could have been named finals MVP. Now, on this current Warriors team, Steph is not the best player, and having the pressure relieved off him being alongside Kevin Durant I think will play a huge role in the whole series. Kyrie will still be the great player he is, but Steph may have the edge now this year, and I see him playing as he has throughout the regular season and playoffs this time around.

  1. Who will be guarding who throughout the series, mainly the matchups involving LeBron James?

One of the biggest question marks in this matchup is who LeBron James will be guarding. Most think he will guard Kevin Durant for a majority of the time they are on the floor together, because LeBron is the best matchup strictly based on size and speed. One thing the Cavaliers could end up doing is switching a bigger man like Tristan Thompson on Kevin Durant to confuse/mix things up on the Warriors, but with as talented a scorer as Kevin Durant is, the safest bet for the Cavs is to keep LeBron on him.

As for the Warriors task in guarding LeBron, I think they will be switching throughout the series between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, with Draymond covering LeBron the most of the two. This mainly because of Draymond’s strength, and how he can move his feet best against LeBron while not being a liability at size. With the way LeBron has been playing this playoffs and how dominant he has been, it would be best to keep Draymond on him.

Now for the rest of the series, here is how I see the starting lineups matching up when the ball is tipped off tonight: Steph Curry will guard JR. Smith for most of the series and vice versa, the same likely goes to Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving. Now I see Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia guarding the likes of LeBron, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson. The only difference I see with the Cavs is allowing Kevin Love to cover Draymond Green. The Kevin Durant/Love matchup on the Cavs side of the ball is intriguing; Kevin Love has been able to win in the post all playoffs and has shot 48% from three as well, Kevin Durant will need to contain him if the Warriors are going to win.

  1. Who else steps up besides Durant, Curry, LeBron, and Kyrie?

This is the ultimate deciding factor in this game. The Cavs may seemed outmatched on paper, but their team is still very good, and they are the team LeBron has figuratively handpicked to face these Warriors. We already know (or hope) the superstars will shine in this series, so whoever is going to get the most out of their bench and/or role players will likely get the edge along with how their stars play. Klay Thompson has been unlike his normal self with Kevin Durant in the lineup so far, which will need to change. Draymond Green cannot do anything like he did in the finals last year to get himself suspended, because at times, he is their most valuable player. JR Smith, Kyle Korver, and/or Iman Shumpert will need to hit shots when needed to if the Cavs are going to escape.

As for final predictions, I think Curry breaks out of his “finals slump”, I think Kevin Durant will outplay LeBron James, and I think the Warriors bench will step up more than the Cavs this finals.

Warriors win it in 6 games.

Finals MVP: Steph Curry

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Wyatt’s NBA Finals Preview