HISTORY. This is history before our very eyes. A lot of us take history in the actual making for granted. Because we’re always using the past and what if scenarios as reference points. We all wish we could see something that’s happened already instead of seeing that something is happening right now. Jordan in his prime, Lakers go 15-1 in the playoffs, Magic vs Bird, all moments millennial basketball fans wished they were alive to witness. But today, we have before us the setting of not only an event, but an era, that fans 30 years from now will wish they were alive to see.
10 household names, 11 all-stars, 3 MVPs from the past 4 years. Two teams, two juggernauts, two armies of soldiers, two groups of men who’ve prepared their entire lives for the biggest stage, the biggest battle they’ll ever have to face in their professional careers. Two unstoppable forces with the same goal. For the first time in NBA history, meet for the THIRD time in the NBA Finals.
On one side, we have a battle tested man, the greatest of his generation, who’s trying to prove himself to be the greatest to ever touch a basketball, relative, no longer to what critics say, but to his own standards. Now a 3 time champion, someone who shocked the world by coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals the year before using sheer force of will and skill, LeBron James has proven that he has the physical means to accomplish this task of “chasing the ghost of Chicago” to become the greatest of all time, but is he equipped mentally? Behind him, is an organization that has fought throughout the season to build a bigger, deeper, better version of the team that has already won a championship the year before. Kevin Love has proven himself to be an all-star worthy of recognition, particularly offensively. Kyrie Irving is an elite point-guard with unmatched abilities to score the ball. Surrounding pieces such as J.R Smith, who hit big shots and showcased defensive ability during last year’s finals, Tristan Thompson, a rebounding and defensive key, and even the presence of veterans like Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, all have the rights to view themselves as worthy champions. But at the start of this season, none of that would seem to be enough, despite the earned trophy. Why the reinforcements?
Because this team looks another, perhaps bigger beast in the face. The Golden State Warriors go 73-9, make history, become immortals, only to throw it all the way by blowing a 3-1 lead in the Finals to the Cavaliers. Now, with perhaps one the most controversial moves in NBA history, this Warriors team is now reinforced with arguably the second greatest player in the modern NBA. Kevin Durant abandons ship to join a team that was already ferociously good without him. At the start of this passed season, The Dubs tower over the rest of the league, sitting upon the highest hill in the NBA, a mountain only the Cavs have proven to be capable of climbing. 2 time MVP Stephen Curry, elite two-way shooting guard Klay Thompson, perhaps the greatest role player of all time Draymond Green, and now former league MVP Kevin Durant, form to create perhaps the most potent super team we’ve seen in the NBA until this point. Will it be enough to overcome the giant of this modern era’s Michael Jordanmin what will be the greatest NBA rivalry in the past 30 years?
WHAT THE WARRIORS NEED TO DO TO WIN
Very little is the answer. Firstly, because they are a 73 win team who just added the second best in the league to their roster just to cut corners with beating LeBron and winning a championship. They’ve won the title before, they’ve proven themselves to be the best in the league on multiple occasions, and now they’re even more potent. So in that sense, there’s little that they could do more to insure their win. However, they must also do “little” in another sense. If their star players all try to do “big” things at once, this could lead to a lack of cohesion and chemistry. Most or all of them must play as role players, and only one or two most rise to the occasion when the situation demands it. Otherwise, they’ll have a major lapse into lacking an identity.
WHAT THE CAVALIERS NEED TO DO TO WIN
The only weaknesses the Dubs have are their bench, and their lack of size. The Cavs’ second unit HAS to show up every game in order to be successful. Their bench squad and their defense are the most important keys to winning this year, since both starting lineups match up too well. No person on the Warriors can be slept on, this is crucial. However, all the stars on both teams are going to do what they do best, so once again, the Cavs’ role players, their bench, must be present every game. Kevin Love is a better player than Zaza Pachulia, so he must take advantage. If Draymond guards him, Tristan Thompson must also take advantage of Zaza Pachulia. Stephen Curry is very fast, but he’s in no way, shape, or form an elite defender, Kyrie needs to use his own speed and handles to his advantage. As for LeBron, even more important than his offensive intensity, is how well he guards Kevin Durant. He has to muscle and harass Durant every time the Warriors have possession, not just when Durant has the ball, but every time down the stretch.
What are your thoughts? What do you think about this year’s finals? Who do you have winning? How does this all change the NBA? Leave a comment below!