SAN FRANCISCO, CA (WOIO) - Here are six things to keep in mind as the NBA Finals draw near.
- The Trilogy
Sequels seldom live up to the original, much less top it ("Godfather II" is an exception), but "Cavs-Warriors II" a year ago was the blockbuster we'd long been waiting for, and certainly was the feel-good hit of the summer.
Now the two best teams in the NBA square off again.
Both teams are better than they were a year ago, but one thing remains the same: few outside of northeast Ohio are giving the Cavaliers much chance of winning. Which is good. It's familiar territory for the defending champs, their comfort zone.
Are we in for another epic series? Put it this way: like any successful entertainment franchise, there's already talk of "Cavs-Warriors IV" a year from now.
First things first, though: Defending the Land.
- Star Power
We haven't seen star power in the Finals like this in 30 years, since Larry and Magic and the Celtics and Lakers were battling.
LeBron, Kyrie and K-Love. Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green. There's more than enough swagger to go around, which means not only great basketball, but high emotions.
There are going to be a lot of mood swings in this series, and I'm not just talking about Draymond. I'm talking about the fans. Buckle your seat belt and enjoy the ride. Remember, it didn't come easy a year ago. It was downright historic.
That said, I don't see the series going seven this time, for a couple of reasons. Starting with…
- The King’s Court
That star power I just talked about? It's incredible.
We're talking about three sure-fire future Hall of Famers, with the others making cases for themselves as they go. And LeBron is the greatest of the greats. He single-handedly carried a depleted Cavs team to Game 6 of the 2015 Finals against the Warriors, sparked their historic comeback from 3-1 down in the 2016 series, and in these playoffs has actually found a way to BE BETTER.
The Warriors couldn't stop him when they knew what he was going to do. How are they going to stop him now that he's polished his "3"?
- Changing of the Guard
If I had asked you a year ago which point guard you'd want in this series, you'd say Steph Curry. Then the Finals happened. And The Shot happened. And Kyrie Irving was on everybody's radar.
Curry can claim that he wasn't 100 percent in last year's Finals, but the fact is that Kyrie came of age in that series, dropping 40+ (along with LeBron) in the crucial Game 5 win at Oracle Arena to keep the series alive, and then of course dropping the biggest 3-pointer in franchise history.
This year, as much as I respect Curry's shot, I'd take Kyrie over the two-time MVP. Especially in the clutch.
- It’s Not Easy Being Green
My 6-year old son Anthony wants me to ask Draymond a question: "When are you going to stop kicking people in the @#$&*"?
If my kindergartener is on to Green's game, the Cavaliers certainly are. The Warriors forward had a couple of incidents this season, but he has to know that his participation in all games is necessary for Golden State to win. The Finals turned when he was suspended for a game last year.
More concerning to the Cavs is, who guards this guy? Kevin Love may struggle against him. LeBron can guard him, but that's an exhausting assignment long-term.
One way or another, we will always know when Draymond in on the court.
Some think this is an overrated dynamic in sports. I don't.
The Cavaliers came together last year when they changed head coaches, pulled Kevin Love in closer, and went through some adversity. When they were on the brink of elimination last June, THIS is what they tapped into. And they're a much tighter group now.
The Warriors have gone through a few things this season, including their head coach's health issues and Durant's injury, but on the court, they've pretty much cruised. They've only been hit in the face once, and that was last June, when the Cavs stunned them. When a game, or this series, is on the line this year, we'll find out if the Warriors truly have that chemistry.
I can envision another meltdown.
Cavs in 6.