|The Raptors took Cleveland to six games? Inconceivable!|
The Warriors set an all-time mark for best regular season record. They are the defending champions and they have the 2-time defending MVP. Until someone beats them, I clearly cannot pick the Cavaliers.
But last year the Cavaliers took the Warriors to 6 games with a roster that basically consisted of LeBron James and the road touring company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This year, they are at full strength. Everyone is healthy, including All-Star level performers Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. So I clearly cannot pick the Warriors.
And yet the Warriors have overcome much tougher teams and more adversity to get to the finals, proving they are the superior basketball squad. They clawed back from being down 3-1 against an OKC team that features two of the best players in the league, and they did it decisively. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, nearly folded when the Raptors mounted a little resistance. Clearly, I cannot choose the Cavaliers.
On the other hand, whereas last year the Cavaliers were hobbled by injuries. This year, it's the injury to Steph Curry that matters. He is the engine that makes the Warriors go, and if he's not at full speed - as he was clearly not for much of the Thunder series, no matter what Steve Kerr says, then the Warriors are vulnerable and out of sync. So I can clearly not choose Golden State.
Then again, the real success the Cavaliers had against the Warriors last year came from slowing the game down, getting Golden State out of its rhythm and making every possession a grind, to the point where Matthew Dellavedova would have been facing assault charges if he hadn't gone to the hospital with exhaustion instead. This year, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has promised to push the pace, which sounds like a recipe for disaster. So I can clearly not pick the team from Cleveland
But the Cavaliers' coach is Tyronn Lue, and regardless of what you think of the way the David Blatt firing was handled in Cleveland, it's clear that Lue has much more of his team's respect and ear. The fact that the coach isn't going to get shrugged off every time the team's star feels like it means that Cleveland will have more coherent offensive and defensive schemes, and they'll be spending a lot less time dealing with distracting questions about the coaching situation. That extra focus could be enough to put them over the top. So I can clearly not choose the team from the Bay Area.
Then again, the Warriors won under interim coach Luke Walton. They won under actual coach Steve Kerr. Their system is clearly operating at peak efficiency regardless of who's at the helm. So I can clearly not choose the Cavaliers.
But that peak efficiency is reliant on the unique skills of players like Draymond Green. And Draymond Green is a knucklehead who is prone to kicking opposing players in the frank'n'beans when the mood strikes. And while he may have gotten away with some serious mischegas during the conference finals because the NBA will forgive its stars doing anything up to and including going full Last Boy Scout on the court in order to avoid losing lucrative TV markets during the playoffs, that doesn't quite play in the Finals. And if Green decides to, say, try to perform an amateur bris on Timofey Mozgov, there's a good chance he will be suspended and the Warriors' flow will be severely compromised. So I can clearly not choose the Warriors.
And yet, Steph Curry is possibly the greatest shooter we've ever seen. So I can clearly not pick Cleveland.
And yet, LeBron James is possibly the greatest player we've ever seen. So I can clearly not pick the Warriors.
And yet....Warriors in 7.