2018 NBA Finals Preview and Prediction
For the fourth consecutive year, the NBA Finals will host the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors are the defending champions and have won two out of the last three NBA Finals (2015, 2017) over the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers won the crown in 2016. This new chapter in this rivalry will give us plenty to talk about over the next few weeks. Many expect the Warriors to dominate and sweep the Cavaliers in this year's finals. The odds are stacked against the Cavaliers. Can they pull off what perhaps could be the biggest upset in NBA history or will the Warriors' dominance continue? Lets take a look at both teams.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
The Warriors have been formidable during their run to the finals. They won the first two rounds in five games and eliminated the Houston Rockets, who were the top team in the league. The Warriors average 109.1 points per game on offense. Their defense have been dominate. They were able to hold the Rockets under 100 points four consecutive games in the Western Conference Finals. Teams also struggle shooting against them, only allowing 42% from the field. Their fast-paced, high octane offense causes fatigue of their opponents.
The keys for the Warriors will be the play of Kevin Durant and a healthy Andre Iguodala. Iguodala's status is still unknown. His presence was missed in the Western Conference Finals. He is the unsung hero of the Warriors. He is the best option to guard LeBron James. If he's remains out, Durant will have to pick up the responsibility of guarding James. Also, Durant must remain consistent on offense. Although he still put up points against the Rockets, Durant's edge was missing and he struggled late in games. Also, Durant need to start moving without the ball, setting screens and rolling to the basket.
The Cavaliers had to fight their way through adversity. They are coming off a seven game series against the Boston Celtics were they had to fight their way out of a 3-2 deficit. Their defense stepped up to the plate, holding the Celtics to less than 100 points the last three games of the series. The play of James has carried them to another NBA Finals appearance.
The keys for the Cavaliers will be Kevin Love and the supporting cast. In game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Love was taken out of the game after a head to head collision with Jayson Tatum. Love did not pass the concussion protocol, resulting in sitting out of game 7. Love's status for Thursday is still unknown. The Cavaliers need Love. They do not have another player on offense with his skill set. Also, the supporting cast need to be more efficient, in particular, JR Smith, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. Those players struggled to find their footing against the Celtics. The post game will also be key. The Cavaliers should work the inside with Tristan Thompson and hopefully Love. James need to use his post moves to put pressure on the Warriors' defense. Getting the Warriors in foul trouble could disrupt their flow and slow them down.
Once again, the Warriors are the superior team. They are better than the Cavaliers in every major statistical category. The Cavaliers simply do not have the fire power on both sides of the ball to stop the Warriors outside of James. Even if Love plays, his impact will be limited as he tends to struggle against the Warriors. Although James had another historic run to the finals, making his 8th straight appearance, he will suffer his 6th loss and the Cavaliers will lose for the third time against the Warriors.
Warriors will win the NBA Finals in 4.