We spent a good five thousand words or so examining the potential matchups as well as their back ups at each position, and if you’ve taken the time to read each of our last five posts, then you’re at least somewhat familiar with the make up of each team; the working parts that create the whole of what is an NBA Finals team.
Before tonight’s 9:00 tip off, I want to make a few predictions for the record, and make my official pick, because these things matter when you talk about sports. It’s not enough to offer thoughtful analysis, you have to become a prophet, and a correct one at that.
Here are five things I predict for the 2015 NBA Finals.
1. LeBron will shoot better than 35% from three for the series.
I mentioned in the small forward post that LeBron is only shooting 17% from outside this postseason, and I also mentioned that regardless of how bad that was, it was an outlier in terms of LeBron’s career numbers. I imagine Golden State will be happy to leave LeBron on the perimeter, and despite his current numbers, LeBron is good enough to make them pay for that.
2. Steph will break Danny Green’s record for threes in the NBA Finals.
I was actually hesitant to type that one out. It feels like if Steph has the opportunity to shoot a three pointer, then the Cavs are doing something wrong, and I think a lot of their game plan will revolve around shutting him down beyond the arc… but in the end, he’s Steph. Danny Green broke Ray Allen’s record just two years ago, but he’s not even considered the same shooter that Reggie, Ray or Steph are thought to be. It seems like if you bet on this, and it happens, you’ll lose money. There’s just no way he doesn’t, right?
3. Iman Will Replace J.R. Smith in the Starting Lineup
This one is a little less likely. I only put it here because I think Iman is Cleveland’s best chance to defend Curry. The easy go-to consensus is that LeBron will take Curry duty, but I think that kind of switch puts Cleveland as a disadvantage everywhere else. If you switch Kyrie onto Klay (which isn’t a favorable matchup either), I believe that will do the least damage and put Cleveland in the best position to win, but if Iman and Curry are going to be on the floor a the same time, move him to the starting lineup.
4. Klay Thompson Will Echo James Harden of 2012 and Stink
This isn’t a knock on Klay Thompson’s ability as a player, but more of a commentary on the nature of the big stage. After all, James Harden has proven to been the best shooting guard in the league now, and he was practically a no-show in his first Fiinals appearance. Some players crumble in their first appearance, it happens, and that combined with some lingering concussion symptoms, Klay seems to be the easy pick for no-show.
There’s also a chance who could shoot the lights out with someone like Kyrie or J.R. guarding him. So we’ll see, but I’m betting on a Klay Thompson no-show.
5. Golden State will Win the Finals in 6 games
If you’ve been speaking to me online or in person, I’ve been echoing Warriors in five because despite the sweep of Atlanta, the Cavaliers didn’t seem structured enough on offense to score against the NBA’s top ranked defense. They’ve been really disciplined on defense in this postseason, but I don’t know how they are going to surprise Golden State on offense. The LeBron-isolation stuff is what the casual fans want to see, but as a basketball fan it’s an awful sight. There’s a real lack of depth on this Cleveland team that I feel will get exposed in the beginning of second quarters, and Golden State will continue to build leads too big for the Cavaliers to cut into. But, as I’ve been writing these previews and analyzing the matchups, there are positions (such as small forward) where Cleveland can exploit an edge, and of course, LeBron is LeBron is LeBron. So with that plus the Klay Thompson no-show that I’m counting on, I gave them an extra game, but Golden State is too good on both ends, and the bench is too full to try and make a run when Curry is off the floor.
We’re here! Tonight’s the night! Let’s do this!