NBA Finals Preview: The Golden State Warriors are looking to win their 13th straight playoff game in the 2017 postseason which would give them the Game 1 victory they want.
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers (63-32) at #1 Golden State (79-15), Thursday, 9 p.m. EST
Line: Warriors -7. Total 225.5.
Anything can happen in Game 1 of a playoff series.
Both teams have plenty of rest for the NBA Finals. Both teams are highly motivated and highly talented. The buildup for this series is off the charts due to the star power this series provides. Furthermore, this is the first time in league history that two teams have faced each other in the NBA Finals in three consecutive seasons.
This will be a ratings bonanza for the league because of the players involved and what the stakes are for both teams. There are plenty of superstar players on both teams. Fans across the globe are starving for competitive games and a competitive series after witnessing blowout after blowout this postseason.
There are lots of storylines for writers to talk about. Each team has a talented player who has been an enigma most of their career who seems to have found a home with their current team.
JaVale McGee is playing for his fourth team in three seasons but has seemingly found a home with the Warriors. McGee shot a career-high 65.2% from the field this season with the Warriors in 77 games. He has shown flashes in the postseason, too, with four double-digit scoring games and he is shooting 74% in the postseason.
JR Smith has been a major contributor for his past teams but has also disappeared mentally at times. No such problems in Cleveland the past three seasons as he will make his third straight NBA Finals appearance. Smith has embraced his role with the Cavs and has improved his defense.
However, the focus of the series will be on the headliners. Cleveland has the Big 3, Golden State has the Big 4 and the NBA has LeBron James, who transcends all of the current players for now. King James is now the king of the postseason, too. LeBron surpassed Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the conference finals for most playoff points ever. James has 5995 career points in the postseason and counting.
James is having his second-best postseason statistically of his career in season #14. He is averaging 32.5 points per game, 8 rebounds per game and 7 assists per game. James’ numbers have been just as good in his previous two NBA Finals appearances against Golden State. LeBron is averaging 32.5 points per game, 12.3 rebounds per game and 8.8 assists per game in those contests.
Kyrie Irving got hurt late in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals and missed the rest of that series. He finished that game with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Irving was stellar in the 2016 Finals, averaging 27.1 points per game, 3.9 assists per game and 3.9 rebounds per game. He hit the go-ahead three-pointer late in Game 7 to lift the Cavs to their first NBA championship. Irving is averaging 24.5 points per game, 5.6 assists per game and 2.4 rebounds per game in the 2017 playoffs.
Kevin Love missed the entire 2015 NBA Finals and suffered a concussion in Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals and really did not recover fully until Game 7. So those numbers are not worth mentioning. However, Love is averaging 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in the 2017 playoffs. His production has increased dramatically in the Celtics series, where he averaged 22.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game.
Stephen Curry was a bit worn down in the 2016 NBA Finals. Curry’s combined numbers for the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals came to 24.2 points per game, 4.7 assists per game and 5 rebounds per game. He is averaging 28.6 points, 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game in the 2017 playoffs.
Draymond Green averaged 14.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game during the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals. Green is averaging 13.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game in the 2017 playoffs.
Klay Thompson averaged 17.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game during the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals. Thompson is averaging 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2 assists per game in the 2017 playoffs.
Kevin Durant played for Oklahoma City until the 2016-17 season, so he is making his first NBA Finals appearance for the Warriors. He is the X factor in this series. Durant averaged 28.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game during the two regular season games against Cleveland.
From a handicapping perspective, I simply do not want to touch this game. We can only guess how the Warriors’ and Cavs’ coaches plan to match up their players against their opponent’s players. There is no way to know who, if anyone, the defenses are going to double-team. We do not know what kind of rotations the coaches are going to throw out on the court. I just want to enjoy the game and then try to anticipate how the losing team will respond in Game 2.
My postseason record: 16-7 (+$745).
No pick for Game 1.
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