So, after two exciting first rounds in the East & West, we have found ourselves one round away from the NBA finals. It has been a fairly predictable year of basketball. Most of the teams that were the preseason favorites have found themselves right where we thought they would be. In the East a.k.a. LeBronville, we have the Raptors and the Cavs facing off, the two teams that were favored to make the ECF. In the West we have OKC, facing off against the Warriors.
No one doubted the Warriors would be in the WCF once again this year, although no one could have predicted their regular season dominance. Many of us, myself included, believed that it would be the Spurs facing off against the Warriors, in what many claimed would be “the real NBA finals”. Instead, we saw the Spurs get completely baffled by OKC’s athletic big’s. Leading to the anticipated match-up between Russell Westbrook & back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry.
OKC shocked everyone in game 1 winning in the Oracle Arena, a place that is nearly impossible to win in. Game 1 showed us that the Warriors really do live and die by the three… in this rare case they died. They shot 11-30; which was just bad enough to keep OKC in the game, despite Durant missing 7 shots in a row in the 4th quarter.
I believe it is possible for OKC to win the series; they do create some match-up problems for the Warriors, especially with Adams, and Kanter, two very athletic centers. Also, many experts have pointed out the fact that the Warriors have trouble defending the Small Forward position, something that will hurt when they face guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James. KD averaged over 35 ppg against the Warriors in the regular season, and let’s not forget who they have at point guard: Russell Westbrook. Who, in my opinion, is the best point guard in the world (sorry Curry Fans).
Russell Westbrook: 23.5 PPG, 8 RPG, 10.4 APG
Stephen Curry: 30.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 7 APG
Russell is clearly the better all around basketball player, with far superior athleticism and strength, but with Curry’s handles and range, he is just as unstoppable as Westbrook. This is the key match-up of the series: Westbrook won the match-up in game 1, and Curry won the match-up in game 2; see a pattern?
The Warriors will have another off shooting night, that the Thunder will take advantage of, but we witnessed in game 2 (and the whole season) just what the Warriors are capable of. When Curry can score 15 points in 2 minutes, it is hard for anyone to beat them. This series is going to be an all out battle, as these teams are very well matched, but I believe that it will be the Warriors who reign superior.
Prediction for the WCF: Warriors 4-2
Now do we really need to discuss who is going to win in the East?
LeBron James, at the age of 31 is still on top of his game, and is looking to compete in his 6th STRAIGHT FINALS!
I think we can all agree that the Heat would have been a better match-up against the Cavs, but the truth of the matter is that no one in the East can compete with them. Unlike last year, the Cavs have all the pieces in place. Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, have been playing good basketball, finally settling into their roles on the team. With these three superstars meshing together, we are seeing just how dominant this team is, and I really don’t believe they have reached their full potential, which is very scary.
Prediction for ECF: Cavs 4-1