The NBA Finals will tip off on June 2nd in the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. he The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will face off in a rematch of last years finals. In 2015, the Warriors beat the Cavs in the finals 4-2 to win the franchises second Larry O’Brien trophy , the first in 40 years. The Warriors are looking to repeat as champions after winning an NBA record 73 games in 2016, while the Cavs hope to bring Cleveland its first major professional sports championship since 1964.
In 2015 NBA Finals, the Warriors defeated the Cavs 4-2. Cleveland under head coach David Blatt, lead the series 2 games to 1, before the Warriors won three straight games, to take home the NBA championship. Andre Iguodala, who went on to win finals MVP, played a major role in Golden States victory after being inserted into the starting lineup. Iguodala provided scoring for the Warriors, when forward Klay Thompson struggled for most of the series. Cleveland lost major contributors, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injury during their playoffs run. Love suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first round against Boston, and Irving injured his knee in game 1 of last years finals.
During the 2016 NBA season Golden State defeated Cleveland in both meetings. Golden State won the first game 89-83. Draymond Green lead the Warriors with 22 points and 15 rebounds, aiding Splash Brothers Stephen Curry (19) and Klay Thompson (18). Backup guards Shaun Livingston (16) and Iguodala (7) combined to outscore the entire Cavs bench (21 pts combined).
34 points was the margin of victory for the Warriors in the teams second match-up. Regular season MVP Curry scored 35 points, and Golden State as a team had five players in double digits. James average 20 points against the Warriors in 2016. Irving scored 14 points in both games, Love scored 10 points in game 1 and 3 in game 2.
The Key Match-up to watch in game 1 is the bench production of the Cavs and the Warriors. Its crucial for the Cavaliers to find one or two players who can provide additional scoring.
Matthew Dellavedova scored 10 pts in both games, while Tristan Thompson scored 8 and 2 pts respectively. Thompson gained notoriety from his performance in last years finals against the Warriors, but has been neutralized ever since. Thompson is a hard nose defender who can really rebound. He is also a has a big body, that can keep up with the Warriors pace of play. Wouldn’t be surprising if Thompson is inserted into the staring lineup for the finals.
Another interesting aspect of this game is how Tyronn Lue will adjust the Cavs defense on Klay Thompson. Thompson has been the Warriors most dangerous scoring threat this postseason. Filling in for an injured Curry, Thompson averaged 23.4 against the Houston Rockets, 31 against the Portland Trailblazers , and 24.7 against the Oklahoma
Thompson can really put the Cavaliers in a bind, because if James is forced to guard Thompson, Irving would then assume responsibility of defending Curry . Irving has proven to lack the defensive prowess, to guard a player with the scoring ability of Curry.
Warriors 111 Cavs 95
Golden State has been nearly invincible at home this entire season, Cleveland lacks the necessary scoring, and players to keep up. Thompson should be able keep up his scoring hot streak for the Warriors. Watch out for a big contribution for Iguodala and Harrison Barnes off the Golden State bench. Cleveland should try to slow the game down, and focus on rebounding.