WARR managing editor Joshua Hicks breaks down the latest battle for it all between Cleveland and Golden State
The Golden State Warriors dynasty gets even better and stands as impressively as ever as they make their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance against LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers.
This latest match-up will add another chapter to the historic rivalry, a chapter that will unfortunately be the least competitive one yet for the Cavs, representing a downward spiral for that franchise and crystallizing a negative outlook on the King’s championship status.
James is continuing to dominate the East by adding an eight straight year to his historic Finals run, but he is going to have to work a lot harder in all areas of the game than he has in previous Finals performances just to survive. Past teams were led with Kyrie Irving, a guy who gave James 26 points a game, as the infamous scoring sidekick to King James and having Kevin Love, another 18 point scorer, as an affective third option offensively. The bench was deep with strong perimeter defense led by JR Smith and Iman Shumpert.
This year’s Cavs team does not have that elite firepower. They are young, inexperienced, less talented and not as explosive offensively in the backcourt, which in these playoffs have brought lots of inconsistency.
JR Smith continues to struggle offensively in the playoffs, only averaging eight points a game on 36 percent shooting from the field and three-point line. George Hill became the ultimate replacements for Irving since the original IT trade blew up in the team’s face, and he has struggled as an offensive assistant to the King, only shooting 25 percent from the three and only providing 10 points a game.
We also cannot overlook the little-to-no production from newly acquired players Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, whom between the two are averaging 10 points and shooting 20 percent from the three, only six points and rebounds from Tristan Thompson and the health of Kevin Love, who is currently in concussion protocol and is only providing 13 points a game on 35 percent shooting from three as the number two option to the King. If James wants to beat the Warriors, the rest of his teammates, including talented veteran Jeff Green, need to show up every game in this series.
This year has been the toughest playoff-push for the Warriors four-year Finals run. The dynamic dynasty’s offensive, especially in this past series against the Rockets, was really exposed with their bad habits of turnovers and stretches of inconsistency in their offensive focal points. Kevin Durant is arguably established as best player in the league next to the King, and even though he is a supreme one on one talent, he is not the focal point of the team’s offense.
Stephen Curry is the engine that gets this team going. Durant, who is averaging 29 points a game, is not like James, someone that can score but also constantly create opportunities for others in various ways on the court. Curry on the other hand is the important playmaker that provides that versatility that makes the offensive game flow at a higher and more efficient rate than Durant, which makes Durant’s job of scoring the ball that much easier and the offensive that much more difficult to defend.
But the key component for the Warriors playoff success is Klay Thompson. Yes, Curry is productive on offense, averaging 25 points while shooting 39 percent from the three. However, it was Thompson’s production on both ends of the floor that kept the team in tact, especially when the team’s offense struggled. Thompson in Game 6 of the Conference Finals scored 35 points while shooting 64 percent from the three. Klay’s defense on the opponent’s best perimeter players while scoring 20 points a game and shooting 42 percent from three as a third option in the team’s offense shows why he is the team’s clear X-factor now with Andre Iguodala being absent for the time being due to injury.
James is arguably the GOAT and the King of these historical platforms, but the Warriors have too many offensive weapons for the Cavs to defend and with the lack of consistent offensive productivity from James’ role players, scoring against a experienced, disciplined Warriors defense will be very challenging.
The Warriors will win this series 4-1, adding another loss to the King’s Finals resume and a downer of an ending to his amazing career representing The Land.
Follow Joshua M. Hicks on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio