Darío Vázquez, Resident Sports Expert
It’s that time of the year again and us NBA fans get to see the Golden State Warriors up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third and hopefully last round for all the marbles. This will be a post with my belief in who will take home both the Larry O’Brien and the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP trophies and why.
If last year’s Finals taught us anything is that the beauty of sports lays on beating the odds. Cleveland came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Warriors at home in an exciting game 7. The Warriors are once again the heavy favorite in all the betting houses, but can LeBron James and company defy the odds twice in a row? This time both teams are healthy, both are playing their best basketball of the season and both crushed their competition en route to their rubber match. Does this means we will see another down to the wire, nail biter at Oracle Arena in game 7? I believe we won’t!
I’m picking the Golden State Warriors to win in 6 games. I don’t believe the Warriors will sweep or demolish the Cleveland Cavaliers and I was inclined to pick them in 5 but I will give LeBron and Kyrie enough respect to will their team to two wins in the Finals. While we may argue that in 2015 it took the Warriors 6 games to beat LeBron by himself, a similar argument can be made that it took Cleveland 7 games and one of the biggest clutch shots in NBA Finals history by Kyrie to beat a Warriors squad with a hobbled Steph Curry, a back bruised Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut out for the last two games after Green’s suspension for game 5 switched the series momentum in Cleveland’s favor. So you take that Warriors team that required LeBron and Kyrie playing at an all time great level and add Kevin Durant who is arguably the deadliest scoring machine in the league, who also happens to be playing exceptional defense, and I just can’t see the Cavs pushing this series to the limit yet alone winning it all. All those wide open shots Harrison Barnes missed last year will not be missed by Durant. LeBron will be force to defend him as he is the only one in their roster capable of neutralizing him and he won’t be able to play safety as he did last year and help the rest of the team on defense. I wish this year’s finals could have featured the same exact rosters that both teams had last year being completely healthy and maybe we would have seen another game 7, but Kevin Durant has significantly moved the scale in favor of the Western Conference Champions.
For the Finals MVP, I guess it is safe to assume that Kevin Durant is the defining factor in the Warriors being the favorites should be the favorite to win it. He is the Las Vegas favorite to take MVP and nobody will be surprised if he does. After all, he put up 30 points per game back in 2012 In his NBA Finals debut against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, so we know he will put up great numbers. Having said all that, I’m not going to pick him as my Finals MVP. I will give that to the other player besides Durant with something to prove in this finals. That would be Steph Curry. Steph can’t disappear and by that I don’t mean him shooting 50-40-90 percent from the field as he does in the regular season because that would be unrealistic given the way the game slows down and is played a bit more tougher and physical in the playoffs compared to the regular season. He needs to show up in big moments, make key plays and avoid silly turnovers or bad shots down the stretch. The Warriors are an unstoppable force when he is the engine of that high octane offense and I’m sure he knows we are all expecting him to be that after all the criticism he has received for his performance in last year’s finals. We know he needs to step up, he knows he needs to step up and I believe he will deliver enough to finally add that trophy to his collection.
Make sure you guys come back to me after the finals to roast me if I’m wrong or pat my back for being right.