By Hocine LOUKKAF on 5/31/2018
For the fourth straight time, Cleveland and Golden State face each other in the Finals. A few hours before the game 1, let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
-How they get there?
After a so-so regular season, the Cavs had a tough first against a grinding Indiana Pacers team. They finally made it to the secound round winning by a small 4pts margin in the game 7. Things were far different in the second round where the Cavs simply swept the Eastern Conference regular season leader, Toronto, with a dominating Kevin Love (20.5pts 11.5rbds for the series). In the seven-games Conference Finals, LBJ showed why he was the King, averaging 33.6pts 9rbds 8.4as and 41% from three.
The Warriors’ road to the Finals was easier, above all in the first two rounds, as Golden State won 4-1 against both the Spurs and the Pelicans. The real challenge was the matchup against Western Conference regular season leader, the Rockets. Kevin Durant was hot during this serie, averaging 30.4pts per game with almost 40% fom three. In the game 7, as Houston choked with an awful 7/44 from three, Curry’s 14pts in the third quarter and KD’s 34pts were enough to lead the Warriors to a fourth straight Final.
-How do they matchup?
The Warriors basically have the same roster that won last year with the Big Three averaging 64.3pts per game for the playoffs. On the contrary, Cleveland had to deal with Irving’s departure and to say that no one has replaced him is an understatement. During these playoffs, only two Cavs players, LBJ has once again been incredible (34pts 9.2rbds 8.8as) but Love was the only Cavs player to average more than 10pts per game during these playoffs.
Both teams also have to deal with injuries as Iguodala has been out with knee injury while Love, who has been cleared for game one, has suffered from a concussion against Boston. Love’ shooting will be important as he is the one who can create space for LBJ penetrations. Cavs will also need better performance from other three point options like Green, Hill or Smith who shot a combined 20/78 from three in the Conference Finals.
Last matchup will be the control of the rebounds as the Love/Thompson pair will need to step up against the trio of Green (11.9rbds per game vs Houston)/Looney/Bell.
Who win this fourth face off?
Let’s be clear, Golden State is the unanimous favorite for this Final, as their leaders are healthy and their small ball frontcourt of Green/Looney/Bell has been efficient. Only way the Cavs can create the sensation is if the shooters, who have been inconsistent until now, can maintain a 40+% shooting from three during the serie.
Conclusion : Golden State win the serie 4-2.
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