A modern-day championship rivalry is renewed in the 2017 NBA Finals. For the third straight year, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers will meet for the title starting, Thursday, June 1, in Oakland, California.
The Warriors won the first meeting, two years ago. The Cavaliers got revenge last year to win Cleveland’s first title in the NBA Finals. This year is a finals rubber match.
Golden State is favored to regain the championship trophy this year. However, they were favored the win the past two years. This match-up is becoming one of the best championship rivalries in basketball history.
Reminiscent of Rivalries Past
The 2017 Finals are reminiscent of the great NBA rivalries of the past. One parallel is the Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, of the 1980s.
The two storied franchises met in the NBA Finals three times over a four-year span from 1984 to 1987, and either Boston or L.A. won the NBA championship every year from 1980 to 1988, with the exception of the Philadelphia 76ers winning in 1983. The two squads also produced a laundry list of Hall of Famers.
In those days, it was basically Larry Bird, and a superb supporting cast, versus Irvin Johnson and a fast-paced offensive show. The Legend against Magic competition drew viewers, even from outside normal NBA aficionados. One thing was almost certain during those years, the fans would witness outstanding basketball execution and drama.
The 2017 version of Cavs-Warriors promises much the same kind of entertaining showcase of basketball greatness. It is also basically two players, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, who are the focus of the Finals. Moreover, the supporting players on these teams may be even better than those between Celtics and Lakers in the 1980s.
There are at least three sure-fire future Hall of Famers in these Finals. Cleveland’s James is a shoo-in for the Hall. Golden State has both Curry and Kevin Durant as locks for Springfield, Massachusetts enshrinement.
Four other potential inductees, two from each team, are featured in the 2017 Finals. The Cavaliers Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love could make the Hall if their careers continue on pace. The Warriors Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could also merit inclusion, should they continue to produce, especially in future Finals.
Finals Favorites and Predictions
Of course, there are a plethora of predictions and odds given for the NBA Finals. According to about everyone, the Warriors are the favorites.
However, it is acknowledged, almost universally, that the series will not be easily won. Moreover, most agree the Finals should be very entertaining, regardless of who one is rooting for.
Last year’s Finals delivered a thrilling and competitive seven-game series. Cleveland came back, improbably, from being down 3-1 to Golden State and won the title on the Warriors home court.
Both the defending champion Cavaliers or the Warriors are capable of winning the title this year. Basically, they are evenly matched. Certain keys must prevail for each team, in order to emerge victoriously.
Keys to Victory for Cleveland
The keys for the Cavaliers essentially involve three, star players. How James performs is the most obvious key. If he dominates scoring in the paint, Cleveland will have a distinct advantage.
Forward Love’s contributions on the boards will be crucial. If he can grab 17 rebounds against the Warriors in any game, as he did against the Celtics, the Cavaliers will probably win that contest.
Additionally, Irving’s scoring could be decisive in any Cleveland victory. If he can have repeat performances of 30 points or more, things will get ugly for the Warriors quickly.
Golden State’s Winning Formula
In the same manner, keys to victory for Golden State also rest upon three critical players. Superstar Curry needs a superior series on both sides of the ball. His scoring and defense must be top-notch if the Warriors are to prevail.
The second key rests in the hands of their forward Green. His tenacious rebounding and defense will be needed to counter the inside strength of the Cavaliers. If he kicks in some scoring in double-figures, Cleveland will have a long and probably unsuccessful series.
The final key for the Warriors is the newcomer, Durant. He has come through huge during the playoffs, so far. Should his play approach the same excellence in the Finals, Golden State could, once again, claim championship rings. It would be sweetest of all for Durant, as this would be his first NBA title.
The Warriors Will Take Home the Trophy
The Golden State Warriors will take home the NBA Finals trophy for 2017. Barring injury, the combination of home-court advantage and a much-improved squad, with the addition of Durant will be a definitive victory.
The Cavaliers will fight, scratch, and claw every minute of the series. However, in the final analysis, the offensive power and underrated defensive prowess of the Warriors will prove James and company’s downfall. Golden State will win in six tough games.
That is the view from this end of the spectrum on round three of a modern championship rivalry renewed in the NBA Finals. Whatever the outcome may be, it should be a scintillating series and, a fitting conclusion to a great season.
Opinion News By D.T. Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
Bleacher Report: NBA Finals 2017: Warriors vs. Cavaliers Spread, Odds, Prop Bets and Betting Tips
BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME: History of The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
ESPN: 2017 NBA Finals: Schedule, matchups and news
NESN: Tyronn Lue Thinks Cavs-Warriors Could Be On Par With 1980s Celtics-Lakers
Sports Illustrated: 2017 NBA Finals Coverage: Warriors vs. Cavs III
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Erik Drost’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License