My yearly NBA Finals thread. Since I've been doing predictions I have been 2 for 2!
Last Year NBA Finals
Superbowl Earlier this Year
I've got Golden State winning in 5-6 Games. I'll be bold and say 5 games. Yes Cleveland is healthy this year. Yes Irving has been having a tremendous post-season. They just don't have enough. The Warriors are battle tested and the home court advantage goes to the team that was able to go 73-9 in the regular season. If it's possible, Steph Curry is better than last year and should put in an NBA Finals MVP performance.
No one can deny LeBron's greatness - 6 straight finals is amazing. If I had to craft the best all-around NBA player it would look exactly like LeBron. The problem is that the way the game is evolving it's no longer required for you to be an all-around great. As it stands right now, it might be better to be a specialist. If you can be freakishly good at draining 3's, have extreme handles, and play underrated defense... you might be "more valuable" than a person who can play every position at an elite level. This is what makes this series interesting to me. You have the epitome of old-school ball led by a once-in-a-generation talent against a crafty new-era way of playing led by a talent that drives coaches crazy because he takes bad shots regularly and makes them.
Coaching - Advantage GSW. While Lue has had a great takeover from the Blatt Era.... watching Kerr make adjustments in the OKC series was masterful. He was able to figure out how the help-defense was shredding his Steph/Green high screen pick-and-roll and got significant minutes out of his bigs (especially Bogut) in the close-out games. The same coach that figured out how to turn a bench player (Iggy) into a Finals MVP can be counted on to materialize his immense advantage in talent.
Backcourt - Advantage GSW. I could copy paste what I have from last year but I won't. Splash bros have somehow gotten better than last year and even off the bench I feel like Livingston/Barbosa/Iggy will contribute big time. Irving/JR have improved as well and Irving is sneakily having an amazing post-season but if you look at the teams they've beaten... there hasn't been too much talent on those teams to drain them on the defensive end. If Toronto can steal 2 games from this team, they're in trouble against what is basically a super-upgraded version of Toronto.
Frontcourt - Advantage CLE. Like every matchup they've been in so far... Golden State is probably going to get out rebounded. Tristan Thompson's knack for offensive rebounding has been something to marvel at this season. In general, Cleveland will probably dominate the paint. They have to. If there is a recipe to winning this series, step 1 probably involves getting so psychical in the paint that Draymon kicks someone in the nuts. Getting Draymon suspended (or at least in foul trouble) will force minutes out of the slower and less-skilled bigs who can get abused by the slashers in Cleveland.
Late game execution - Advantage GSW. Simply put: if Golden State is ahead they will stay ahead. If they are behind, no lead is safe, they can catch up at any time. Cleveland has to really torch them hard and come out of the gates firing. I think they can get fired up for Game 3 and be up 20+ points at the start of the 4th. That's what it's going to take. Other than that I have Golden State destroying them in Games 1, 2, 4, and 5.
Personally I'll be rooting for Cleveland as I think the narrative of getting a championship to The Land is too good to pass up. It may be now or never for LeBron. I think his chance to be the GOAT has dwindled since he's 2-7 in Finals appearances but I think he can really cement himself as a top 10 player of all time if he can bring down this GSW team. Hopefully my prediction is wrong and we can get 7 competitive games!