Let’s get it.
The Golden State Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals with a 101-92 win against the Rockets on Monday in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the Finals with a 87-79 win Sunday in Game 7 of Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics.
With the Warriors and Cavs in the Finals, the NBA is the first of the country’s big four sports leagues to have the same two teams play for a title for four straight seasons.
Game 1 of the Finals will be in Oracle Arena on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET. The NBA has recently been viewed as the most predictable league in pro sports because of this rivalry.
But for me, someone who’s followed the NBA closely since 2007, these last three NBA Finals have been the best basketball I’ve ever seen – and it’s not even close. The Warriors’ offense has been revolutionary, amazing, and most of the time, seemingly impossible to stop.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the best shooters in the league, have been the best backcourt of the decade. And while Kevin Durant has only played on the team for two seasons, his scoring prowess has only added to the Warriors’ motion-filled offense.
The Warriors have won two of the three championships in the past three seasons. The Cavs won in 2016, and that was easily their best team of this run. But with LeBron James on Cleveland, it’s hard to ignore what Cleveland has the chance to do in this series.
James, 33, has had the best season of his career. And he’s only done more this postseason. He has scored 40 or more points seven times in the playoffs. James is also one of three players since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams to average 30 or more points for three straight rounds before playing in the Finals. Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan are the other two players, and Jordan did it twice.
While the Warriors are better than the Cavs, Cleveland has a chance to win at least one game in this series because of James and his ability to uplift his teammates. Jeff Green played well in the last two games against the Celtics.
Green averaged 16.5 points per game in the last two games, and he started in place of Kevin Love in Game 7. Love was out for Game 7 because of concussion-like symptoms. On Tuesday, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said that Love is still in the NBA’s concussion protocol.
If Love is available for Game 1 on Thursday, Lue has an interesting choice to make. Green has been playing well, but at this point, it’d be difficult to bench Love; he’s been a starter this entire postseason. Lue could start Green and Love, and fill out the lineup with James, George Hill and Tristan Thompson. That lineup allows the Cavs to have a balance on offense and defense, particularly if Green can produce on the offensive end.
Warriors forward Andre Iguodala has a left knee injury, and he didn’t play in the last four games against the Rockets. The Warriors announced Wednesday that Iguodala has been ruled out for Game 1, and he will be re-evaluated before Game 2.
What’s going to be important for the Warriors is whether their offense can consistently be what it has been in the past. The Rockets made the Warriors’ offense look beatable, but in the end, the Rockets still didn’t have enough to match the Warriors on offense. With three top 10 shooters in Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors are hard to keep down for long.
Still, the Cavs have James. And for a Cavs team that has been inconsistent on both ends of the floor this season, perhaps having James gives the Cavs a chance to win at least one game.
Regardless of the outcome of this series, these two teams have provided basketball fans great basketball in the past three championships.
This year’s Finals should be no different. Let’s do this again.