The NBA Finals series is still underway, but many people believe the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Some people have remarked that the real series already happened in the Western Conference Finals. It is not a question of if, but when the Cleveland Cavaliers will bow to the defending champions again. Surprisingly, LeBron James and his 51 points almost eked out a win in Game 1. James also made 33 points in Game 3 and saw his efforts in vain yet again. His frustrations have been so palpable.
Here are some reasons that point to the Golden State Warriors repeating as NBA Champions:
The loss of Kyrie Irving has taken a big chunk out of the Cavs’ firepower. The Warriors have four All-Star players and no amount of switching on defense is able to stop that well-run Golden State offense. In Game 3, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were a combined 7 out of 27, and they still won with Durant delivering the final dagger of a three-point shot, and finishing with 43 points.
The Coaching Factor
Coach Steve Kerr has shown a lot of confidence in his players. He has been able to maximize the use of his reserves, even starting JaVale McGee in Game 2, resulting in 6-of-6 shots inside the paint. Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney, David West, and Nick Young have all gotten substantial playing time.
In contrast, Tyronn Lue did not field in Rodney Hood until Game 3, where Hood made 15 points. Lue’s rotation of players has been really off: in Game 3, Kyle Korver had played for only about 6 minutes going into the 4th quarter of Game 3 and could not really get into any rhythm.
As mentioned, Golden State has made good use of its reserves. During one time or another, we saw Jordan Bell or JaVale McGee playing good defense on LeBron James because letting Kevin Durant guard James would imperil KD getting into foul trouble. In contrast, Cleveland was content to see George Hill in a mismatch against Durant, or a sure recipe for disaster, the slower Kevin Love guarding KD.
Home Court Advantage
The Warriors have already taken advantage of this by putting up a 3-0 lead. Expect the Cavaliers to win one at home—and salvage some pride—before Golden State repeats as champs in their own Oracle Arena in Game 5.