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Cavaliers vs Warriors, definitely something different.  Golden State is making their first NBA Finals appearance in forty years, and Cleveland is here in LeBron’s first year back “home” after a four-year stay in Miami.  Let’s look at a position by position analysis of this match-up.

Point Guard: Stephon Curry vs Kyrie Irving.  Curry, this year’s MVP, has not had a playoff letdown as he is averaging over 29 points , six assists, and almost five rebounds.  He is lethal with the ball in pick and roll situations and off the ball coming off screens.  Irving’s health is a huge topic in this series.   When healthy, Kyrie is dangerous because he can score in bunches, and he is an underrated shooter.  The way a team can attack a great offensive player is by making him work defensively.  Irving can be that guy who works over Curry. Kyrie’s questionable health gives Golden State the edge here.  Advantage: Warriors

All eyes will be on the duel at point guard.
All eyes will be on the duel at point guard.

Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson vs Iman Shumpert.   Klay’s well-being is in question because of a concussion, and he has had his struggles in the playoffs (only shot 42 percent against the Rockets in the West Finals).  The defense still has to pay attention to him, as evidenced by the six three-pointers he made in Game 4 versus the Rockets.  Shumpert has had a “revival” since becoming a Cavalier.  He finally got a chance to play and has cashed in on that opportunity.  He is only averaging 10.2 points per game in the postseason, but his defensive versatility separates him from a lot of wing players in this league.  He is an absolute “pest” to play against.  Expect Iman to check Thompson and Curry in this series.  Not loving Klay at all right now, especially with the injury.  Advantage: Even

Small Forward: Harrison Barnes vs LeBron James.  LeBron is STILL the best player in the league. Offensively versatile as a  scorer and a passer.  The problem with James that I see is his efficiency.  In his last five games, his shooting percentage is at 41 percent,  and this includes a 37-shot game against the Hawks and a 7-23 shooting performance against Chicago.  I want him to stop settling for jump shots, and attack.  Barnes plays his role well as a good defender and as a capable scorer.  If Klay gets off to a slow start, Barnes will have to pick up some of the production I believe.   He has to step it up in this series.  Advantage: Cavaliers

Until seen otherwise, this is LeBron's world, Draymond will just be living in it.
Until seen otherwise, this is LeBron’s world, Draymond will just be living in it.

Power Forward: Draymond Green vs Tristan Thompson.  I must say Thompson has capitalized on the opportunity to start in lieu of Kevin Love.  His rebounding (offensive in particular) and toughness gives Cleveland a different dimension.  His game is very “workmanlike”.  Green has the same effect on Golden State,  he gives them toughness, rebounding, and personality.  Draymond is also a good offensive player who can score and pass very well.  A tough match-up for Thompson because Green opens the floor up for Curry and everyone else.  Advantage: Warriors

Center: Andrew Bogut vs Timofey Mozgov:  Both bigs are tough-minded and do a great job staying within their game as defensive stalwarts.  Bogut is a better passer, but Mozgov seems to not get into foul trouble as often and is a better foul shooter than Bogut.  It will be a war on the inside with these two.  Advantage: Cavaliers

Bench: Andre Igoudala, Shaun Livingston, David Lee, Leandro Barbosa, and Festus Ezeli vs Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith, James Jones, Shawn Marion, and Anderson Varejao (possibly).  In my opinion, Golden State’s depth and versatility has been crucial to their success.  I know David Lee has not played much, but he is better option that say a Mike Miller or Shawn Marion right now.  Dellavedova and Smith have been highly productive as shooters and pesky defenders, even though some would call Dellavedova “dirty”.   A key could be Varejao, who has not played because of a major injury.  If he returns, he will help on the glass  and on defense.  Advantage: Even 

Coach: Steve Kerr vs David Blatt.  Both first-year coaches have done a great job in different ways.  Kerr has gotten his message across to this young team, they respect him. His road has been smooth compared to David Blatt.  Blatt has had to endure through some tough times when there were rumors of assistants coaching over him, LeBron being “the coach”, and having to manage Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and James.  I like Kerr here because he can draw from his experience in the Finals as a player to help his guys get over the moment of the Finals.  Advantage: Warriors

Prediction: This series is going to be really interesting because of the health issue with Thompson and Irving.  Both I’m sure will play, but effectiveness is what concerns me.  The one who proves to play better will help bring the trophy to their respective city.  I still like Golden State here because I don’t fully trust Irving’s health and they won’t beat the Warriors with just LeBron and J.R. Smith.   Warriors in 7

 

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