The 2017 NBA Finals are set to begin as for the third straight season the Golden State Warriors will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On one side the Warriors have assembled one of the most talented teams in NBA history with Kevin Durant joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. On the other side the defending champion Cavaliers have the best player on the planet in LeBron James, while Kyrie Irving has taken his game to another level and Kevin Love is playing his best basketball since joining Cleveland.
The teams have split the first two Finals meetings with Golden State beating the Cavs in six games in 2015 while Cleveland returned the favor with an epic comeback to beat the Warriors in seven games last year.
With things set to begin on Thursday night, we asked our panel of experts for their predictions on the 2017 NBA Finals. Who will win and in how many games? This is what they had to say:
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Last year I said Warriors in five and it was on its way to happening until an untimely suspension (Draymond Green) and injury (Andrew Bogut) opened the door for Cleveland. Maybe it’s stubbornness, but I am going Warriors in five again.
My biggest reason for this belief is that Cleveland’s defense has been pretty bad. They struggled to contain an average Pacers offense in the first round, but were able to outscore them. Even in their blowouts of the Celtics, Boston had a lot of open looks, but didn’t have the shooters to knock them down. That won’t be the case against Golden State.
The Warriors offense is just too difficult to stop and even though Cleveland’s defense seems to pick up when they face the Warriors (Kyrie in particular), I just don’t believe they have enough to contain this ridiculous Warriors team.
In the end, Durant gives the Warriors another player who can just get a bucket when the team needs it most. Combine that with Curry having an excellent playoffs this year, Klay Thompson essentially being the world’s best fourth option, and Draymond continuing to do everything and Golden State just has too much. LeBron and Kyrie will take a game, but the Warriors will finally end a series in front of their home crowd.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand): I know most people are taking the Warriors in this series, but I’m going to choose the Cavaliers in seven games.
For the Cavs to win this series, their stars will need to play like stars. LeBron James will have to continue doing everything for his team, Kyrie Irving will need to knock down clutch shots and Kevin Love will need to be a double-double machine, all of which are entirely possible.
The Warriors rely heavily on outside shooting, so if Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson aren’t knocking down shots, which has been the case in past Finals, then the Warriors could be in serious trouble.
Additionally, if Steve Kerr is not able to coach this series then I think the Cavs have a significant advantage in that department. Because of Kawhi Leonard’s injury the Warrior’s have not really been tested this postseason, but as Laker fans we all know what Mike Brown is capable of, and so does LeBron and the Cavs.
I could end up being totally wrong and the Warriors sweep the series or win in five, but I think the Cavs could pull this off and LeBron could cement his legacy among the NBA’s all-time greats.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane): Warriors win in 6- Last season, the Cavaliers squeaked out a game seven victory to fulfill LeBron James’ destiny and bring a championship back to Cleveland. As unstoppable as James is when he really turns it on, I don’t see this series playing out the same way.
Strategies will certainly change, but the bottom line is that a big reason why the Cavs won last year is that they were able to leave Harrison Barnes open and focus on contesting the shots of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
Over the offseason, the Warriors upgraded from Barnes to Kevin Durant. There goes that strategy.
Golden State simply has too many weapons to successfully defend them all. Cleveland can give themselves a shot if Tristan Thompson dominates the boards, which he can do, but Zaza Pachulia will give him a hell of a fight down low.
James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love will win a couple of games, and I expect it to be close, but the Warriors are walking away with the NBA Championship.
Nick Torres (@Nickotee): This Finals rematch is destined to among one the greatest series because of the star-power involved. Kevin Durant has definitely helped Golden State become a more potent offensive juggernaut that can outscore anybody almost every night. They can also pick up their defensive play when needed and they will definitely need to do so against the most efficient offense this season in the Cavaliers.
LeBron James is perhaps enjoying his most dominant postseason of his career. He is averaging 32.5 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists per game. The best part is that he is putting up those numbers while shooting an overall 56.6 percent from the field. Kevin Love is also enjoying a fine postseason as he is averaging 17.2 points per game.
While the Warriors are favored to win the series by many, I believe the Cavs will knock off the Warriors in seven games to win their second straight title. The way James is playing right now is outstanding and I can’t see the Warriors stopping him. It is often said that the team with the best player wins and as far as I know, James is still the best player in the game.