Forty years is a long time between titles. That’s how long it has taken the Golden State Warriors to win another NBA Championship.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 1. Golden State Warriors
Easily the two best players in the NBA, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, will be dominating the headlines of this years Finals matchup. They have both been phenomenal in the playoffs. The questions will always come down to the supporting cast for each teams superstar. Cleveland has a banged up Kyrie Irving who can still provide needed scoring in support of LeBron. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have been excellent pieces in the scoring and defensive departments respectively. Matthew Dellavedova has been a nuisance for previous opponents, but has been a big part of this teams playoff success with Irving banged up. Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson have done a great job provided a post presence mostly in the rebounding department. Mozgov is the more polished offensively threat, but his opportunities come from second and third chances.
The Warriors have been the surprise team in the Western Conference. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have been a great complement to Curry’s MVP season. Green is a solid defender, but has become a great all-around player on both ends. Thompson is a deadly sharp shooter who has improved is defensive prowess this season. Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala are important complements who provide excellent defense and can be scoring threats when needed. The most important part of the Warriors scheme in this series will be containing LeBron James. They’ll be hard pressed to stop him, but they must keep him out of the paint. If the Warriors want to complete this incredible season they will need to make LeBron a jump shooter.
Players to Watch: G Kyrie Irving and F Draymond Green
Who Wins: Cavaliers in 7 games
Central Division #3 vs. Atlantic Division #2
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Since 2010 the Blackhawks have been at the forefront of the Stanley Cup. This will be their third appearance in the Final and they have had the same cast of characters throughout most of their title runs. The Lightning will be making their second Final appearance and have a whole new cast from the one that led them to victory in 2004. Both Chicago and Tampa Bay play a similar style in that they try to lull their opponents to sleep and then pounce when the time is right. The Blackhawks did that with the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals and the Lightning did it to the New York Rangers in the East. Their goalies aren’t highly regarded, but they have shown a lot of promise late in playoffs. Ben Bishop was astounding in net for the Lightning and Corey Crawford needed to be perfect for the Blackhawks. The one advantage going for Tampa Bay is that Chicago is a bit shorthanded on defense with injuries and fatigue taking a toll. The Blackhawks still boast a terrifying offense that goes nine deep up front. Tampa Bay isn’t short on offense either, but their defense was a big factor in getting this far. They’ll be put to the test with Chicago. It will be an interesting series that should be an offensive affair, but could come down to the defense.
Players to Watch: F Jonathan Toews and G Ben Bishop
Who Wins: Blackhawks in 7 games