For the last three years, the Golden State Warriors have battled the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. In 2015, the Warriors demolished an exhausted Cavaliers team in six games. In 2016, the Cavaliers mounted an impossible comeback to gain redemption. This year, the Warriors gained their redemption and defeated the Cavaliers with amazing performances from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
What will happen in the 2018 Finals if these two teams should see each other for the fourth consecutive time? The answer is hardly surprising. If the Cavaliers meet the Warriors in the June of 2018, they will plainly get swept. In all seriousness, as last year proved, the Cavaliers are vulnerable to not having enough to defeat the Warriors.
5. The Cavaliers didn’t get better
When the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals, Draymond Green controversially exclaimed that he called Durant right after Game 7. Although Durant later denied this claim, Green seemed determined to get better and gain redemption for their embarrassing loss in the Finals. Fast forward into the following year, the tides have surely changed. The Cavaliers were defeated easily by the Warriors in a demoralizing fashion. Instead of retooling their roster and getting better, the Cavs have noticeably digressed.
Before the summer ended, the Cavs took a gut punch and traded away Kyrie Irving. They received Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas, with the latter being questionable after his recent hip injury. Subsequently, the team picked up Dwayne Wade, but at times it doesn’t seem like he is an ideal fit. Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert are grossly inconsistent. Derrick Rose is in and out, and Kevin Love isn’t really enough to shoulder the load away from LeBron James.
Even if Isaiah Thomas comes back, can the Cavaliers hope to defeat the Warriors. No, it’s not going to happen.
4. The Cavs can’t stop the Warriors
Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the past year or so, everyone knows that the Golden State Warriors are arguably the most talented team in NBA history. Their immaculate roster boasts Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. They have key rotation players in Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, and Javale McGee, and they are coached by a genius NBA head coach. What more could you add to a perfect team? We’ll get to that in a second, but since the Cavaliers have dwindled in terms of talent, they are in no position to challenge the Warriors.
In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Warriors outscored and contained the Cleveland Cavaliers. They out-muscled them in every aspect of the game, but two things remained constant. The Cavaliers had no answer for Kevin Durant nor Stephen Curry. With the way their roster looks now, the fact still remains. Can the Cavaliers slow down the Warriors and play them at their pace? Can the Cavaliers limit Durant and Curry, and attempt to outscore the fearsome giant? Both of those questions seem unlikely. The Cavaliers have few defensive stoppers that can contain the Warriors. This time, they might get torched in four games.
3. The Cavaliers might not have a point guard
LeBron James’ so-called “sidekick” was none other than Kyrie Irving. The amazing duo wrecked havoc on Golden State’s tough defensive system before Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics. If the Cavaliers want to replicate that success, they will need to find out whether Isaiah Thomas fits the mold as a reliable play-maker and scorer. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers will enter into 2018 not knowing how healthy Thomas really is and how he will fit into their system.
Prior to the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season, the Cavaliers were vexed about the Thomas trade and had doubts about his health. They even considered voiding the trade in lieu of more pieces in case Thomas didn’t return in 100% shape. This obstacle can potentially create a problem if Thomas comes not like his original self. If he is healthy, the Cavaliers should be fine. But, if he isn’t, the Cavaliers are going to be in trouble. Although Thomas has downplayed the severity of his injury, this should not even be a concern. When the Cavaliers eventually face the Warriors, they will have to do so with Thomas’ health and play in question. That’s certainly not a good thing.
2. The Cavs will stress LeBron James
So far, the Cavaliers are 23-9 in the season, which is good for third seed in the Eastern Conference. LeBron James is playing 37.8 minutes per game, and he just may be playing his best season ever. Few can deny that fact that LeBron is pushing Father Time aside, while playing like a rookie and a vet. Though, let’s calm down for a second. LeBron James is an amazing, all-time great player, but there is no reason why he should have to play so hard. On the Rockets, James Harden has Chris Paul and other shooters who make his job much easier. The same goes for the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics.
However, LeBron seems to be doing too much on the court nowadays. Is something wrong with the team? Most likely. According to NBA.com, there are slight differences between James’ usage rating from this year and the season before. However, the difference between the LeBron then and the LeBron now is that he simply has to play at an MVP level for the Cavaliers to win. That’s stress. If this trend continues, we might get a replay of the 2015 NBA Finals, but the Cavaliers won’t win any games.
1. The Warriors got better
It seemed impossible, but it happened. The Warriors got better. In the off-season, the Warriors added Nick Young, Omri Casspi, and Jordan Bell. All of whom are playing tremendously well this season. The Warriors and Cavaliers both have a tendency to under perform in the regular season. Both teams usually turn on the switch and dominate in the post season. Nonetheless, the Warriors are obviously a different team. The Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in five games this year, and they did not get better. The Warriors got better, and will be a stronger monster in the NBA Finals if both teams can make it.
Not only with the Cavaliers struggle with the Warriors’ Big Four, but they will have to deal with a bench that has gotten deeper and stronger. Nick Young is having his best season in years, Omri Casspi is adding quality shooting off the bench, and Jordan Bell is starting to evolve in Draymond Green 2.0. The Warriors have definitely gotten better, and it should be enough to sweep the Cavaliers and end their rivalry once and for all.