The Basketball world is in uncharted territory with this year’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Never in NBA history has the same two teams met in the Finals for three straight seasons. Actually, this has only occurred once in each of the other three major sports, MLB (New York Yankees vs. New York Giants 1921-1923), NFL (Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns 1952-1954), and the NHL (Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Canadiens 1954-1956).
This NBA Finals may be the most anticipated Finals since the second Heat vs. Spurs matchup in 2014, but it was not always this way.
No one could imagine back in July 2014 when LeBron announced his return back to Cleveland, that he would be guiding this team to their 3rd straight finals appearance (his seventh straight). Nor could we have foreseen the Warriors heading back for their third straight Finals appearance.
So let us recap these last two NBA Finals and what we can expect in this year’s Finals.
The Warriors finished the regular season with the best record in the league 67-15. While the Cavs rebounded after a rough start and finished the season second in the East with a 53-29 record.
The Warriors rolled through the playoffs with few hiccups and made it to the Finals. The Cavs, on the other hand, lost Kevin Love in the first round and would eventually lose Kyrie Irving in overtime of game one of the NBA Finals.
Forcing LeBron and a depleted Cavs team to go up against MVP Stephen Curry and the Warriors, they would take a surprising 2-1 lead in the series. But the Warriors won game three and were eventually crowned 2015 NBA Champions.
In 2016 the Warriors headed to the playoffs with the best record in NBA history 73-9, surpassing the Chicago Bulls 72-10 record. Stephen Curry the MVP for the second consecutive year faced injuries throughout the playoffs but his team found a way back into the Finals.
While the Cavs finished first in the East (57-25), and plowed through the Eastern Conference playoffs healthy and ready for a rematch. The Warriors took a commanding 3-1 lead but things changed when Draymond Green was suspended for game 5.
“I think we’ll feel it more on the defensive end than the offensive end,” said coach Steve Kerr. “Defensively, it’s tough to match what he does,” he added.
And boy did they feel it, the Warriors lost by 15 and allowed LeBron and Kyrie to both score 41 points. The Cavs went on to win game six and force a game 7.
Where Kyrie Irving would drain a go ahead three pointer over Stephen Curry in the final minute of the game. Helping LeBron deliver the city of Cleveland its first championship in 52 years.
Which brings us to this year’s 2017 NBA Finals, in a matchup that has clearly become a rivalry. In a sit down earlier this season with TNT’s David Aldridge, Draymond Green expressed his feelings on a potential Finals meeting with the Cavs.
“If Cleveland comes out of the east, I want to destroy Cleveland,” said Green. “I want to annihilate them.”
The Warriors added former MVP Kevin Durant to the roster this offseason, a move that received a lot of backlash from fans and analyst. He and the Warriors come into the Finals 12-0 this postseason and have looked unstoppable.
The Cavs on the other hand have pretty much the same roster as last season with a few moves to bolster their bench. But the reigning champs have also ripped through this postseason with a 12-1 record going into the Finals.
So what do we have to look forward to? Both these teams come in with high-powered offenses. The Warriors come in averaging in 118 points per game, while the Cavs have averaged 115 points per game through the playoffs.
We hope to see Stephen Curry and LeBron continue their great work scoring the ball. Steph is averaging 28 points in the playoffs so far, while LeBron just recently passed Michael Jordan on the all time playoff scoring list. So we can expect both guys to be playing at a high level.
Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving two of the best ball handling guards in the NBA, could be its own mini-series to see who can out duel the other. Also looking forward to Draymond Green face off against Kevin Love, both can score the ball but Draymond dominated this match-up in last years Finals.
We cannot forget the match-up of the series LeBron vs. KD. Two of the best players in the NBA right now, two guys who can challenge you on defense and offense. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out throughout the series
With the Warriors playing at such a high level and with the talent they have, it is hard to give the Cavs a chance. But it is just as hard to count LeBron out of any series he plays in, especially with the way Kyrie has played in the past two games.
Both teams have suffered championship loses at the hands of the other, so we can expect a hard fought series from two teams who do not want to go home empty handed.
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