By Wyatt Dojutrek, Jack Ankony and Paul Evers, online sports editor, executive sports editor and sports editor
The NBA Finals are set! The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy and the title of NBA Champion, starting Thursday June 2.
Cavaliers in 6
Golden State was 2-0 against Cleveland this season, including a win on Christmas Day. However, now during the playoffs, something is different for the Cavaliers. David Blatt is on the streets and LeBron has the coach that he wants in Tyronn Lue. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are back in the Finals for Cleveland after sitting out last year with injuries. When the Big Three of LeBron, Irving, and Love score at least 20 points apiece in a game, the Cavs are 7-0 in the postseason. I think that LeBron and friends will celebrate in confetti at the end of the year. A bold prediction: LeBron will have two 40 point games in the series, and Tristan Thompson will have 25 rebounds in one game. In the end, the Warriors will blow out the Cavs in games one and two in Oakland, then the Cavs will come roaring back to win four straight and will show off the Larry O’Brien trophy to the championship-starved fans of Cleveland.
Warriors in 6
Throughout the playoffs, I have gone from a Rockets fan, to a Trail Blazers fan, to a Thunder fan, and now I will once again shift to a Cavaliers fan. It’s something about the way Stephen Curry carries himself, the cold-blooded shooting of Klay Thompson, and the unnecessary kicking of Draymond Green that has made me grow to hate the Warriors. It also has to do with the fact that I have always been a loyal Bulls fan and to see the Warriors break the GOAT’s regular season record bothered me. However, I won’t discount that the Warriors are an outstanding team and Curry is incredible averaging 29.3 points in the last ten games. As I have gone through the playoffs hopping from bandwagon to bandwagon hoping someone could take down the baby-faced assassin, I have realized that the Warriors are just too good. The Warriors outscored the Cavs in previous meetings by a combined 40 points in two wins. Coming back from a 3-1 deficit against a Thunder team that looked invincible through four games proved their historic greatness. Last year the Cavs took the Warriors to six games when two of the big three were hobbled for Cleveland, and this year it looks as if they will be at full strength. Every year it seems LeBron has an excuse for not winning a championship, but this year he has no excuse. He has HIS coach, HIS big three, he is fully rested, and should be as confident as ever averaging 27.9ppg, 8.1rpg, and 8.7apg in the last ten games as the Cavs only lost two games in the playoffs. The Cavs will need to stop the Warriors in transition. In previous meetings the Warriors outscored them 29-2 in transition. Those factors all point in LeBron’s favor. However, the fact that they will have to take down the Warriors four times does not. Golden State has proven to me throughout the course of this playoffs that they are too much of a complete team to lose four times to the same opponent in the span of a couple of weeks. Though I will be rooting hard for LeBron (or against Curry), I will have to take the Warriors in 6. Golden State will win games 1, 2, and 3 to put LeBron in a deep hole. I believe the Warriors will have a mentality of “we are not messing around” after almost losing to the Thunder. LeBron will counter with wins in games 4 and 5 only to lose game 6 in Cleveland to secure the second straight championship for the Warriors. Inconsistency from Kevin Love will plague the Cavaliers throughout the series. Love started the playoffs with eight double-doubles averaging 18.9 PPG and 12.5 RPG. Love averaged only 14.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG in his next five games. The fact that game 6 is in Cleveland changes nothing for me, as Curry and co. showed they can win anywhere in the series against the Thunder. As a bonus prediction, Klay Thompson wins Finals MVP.
Warriors in 7
When the Warriors were down 3-1 against the Thunder, I knew Golden State would come back to win that series. The Warriors play best when they have a chip on their shoulder, like when they were down in the Western Conference Finals. Many people believe the Dubs never would have won the title last year if Kyrie Irving (averaging 24.3 points, 5.1 assists, and shooting 45.6 percent from 3-PT range per game in this year’s playoffs) and Kevin Love (averaging 17.3 ppg and 9.6 rpg in this year’s playoffs) were healthy for the Cavaliers. I’m sure the Warriors won’t take too kindly to that. The Splash Brothers of Stephen Curry (26.3 ppg, 40.7 3pt% in the playoffs) and Klay Thompson (26.2 ppg, 44.8 3pt% in the playoffs) will lead Golden State to the promise land, even though LeBron James (24.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 7.0 assists per game in the postseason) will play a very formidable gatekeeper. James and the Cavs come up just short, losing in Game 7 at Oracle Arena where the Warriors will celebrate their second straight title with their home crowd.
Here is who the Prospector staff thinks will win the NBA Finals!