Rogers' *10* GAME 1 BEST OF THE BEST >> 13-6 NBA Playoff Run!
Cleveland vs. Golden State,
06/01/2017 21:00 EDT,
Score: 91 - 113
Point Spread: -7/-110 Golden State
The set-up: The same two teams (Cavs & Warriors) meet in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, something that's never happened before. With Steve Kerr's health issues, the Warriors are led by Mike Brown, who formerly coached LBJ and the Cavs from 2005-2010. Brown (and of course, LBJ) led the Cavs to the Finals in 2009 (got swept by the Spurs), in just his second year with the team and then to 66 wins and 61 wins in his final two seasons. He was fired and coached the Lakers for two years before returning to Cleveland for the 2013-14 seas onbut LBJ was in Miami by then. The Cavs won just 33 games and Brown was fired again, Circumstances have Brown now facing off against his ex-team and head coach Tyronn Lue, making it the first time two black head coaches have faced each other in an NBA Finals since 1975 (Al Attles and KC Jones!).
The Warriors won the title in 2015 but the Cavaliers rallied from a 3-1 deficit last season to win their first-ever title and while we'll never know for sure, the Game 5 suspension of Draymond Green sure seemed like a momentum-changer. The Warriors enter the Finals a perfect 12-0 (8-4 ATS) and the Cavs 12-1 (8-4-1 ATS), leaving little doubt that the two best teams from each conference (by wide margins) will meet for the title. The Warriors are about a 3-to-1 favorite to win but that doesn't sit well with Cleveland power forward Kevin Love. "The whole underdog thing is funny to me, because, yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title," Love told reporters. "We're trying to repeat, which is so hard to do. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? It's tough for me to say that is the case. I don't feel like we're underdogs." Warriors forward Draymond Green sees the series as a matchup of "greatness," and doesn't understand why there appears to be a lack of appreciations for how both teams rolled through the postseason. "I think you've found two great teams, and we've played that way, and maybe people don't appreciate it because of a blowout or because of a sweep," Green said. "But people may want to be careful, because I think right now you're witnessing greatness. Two great teams, great players, and that's what it is."
Cleveland: LBJ has averaged 32.5-8.0-7.0 this postseason, with PG Kyrie Irving averaging 24.5 & 5.6 APG and Love adding 17.2 & 10.4. Love was fantastic against Boston, producing a double-double in all five games (22.6 & 12.4). However, for the Cavs to beat the Warriors, swingman Kyle Korver (6.4) plus guards J.R. Smith (6.6) and Iman Shumpert (4.7) need to improve on what they've done so far in the 2017 postseason.
Golden State: Curry's been the Warriors' best player this postseason, averaging 28.6-5.5-5.6. Durant has fought through some minor injury issues (he missed two games) to average 25.2 & 7.8, while Green has been a major force, averaging 13.9-7.8-7.2 and playing shut-down defense. Lagging behind this postseason has been the fourth member of this "team of All Stars," Klay Thompson, who after averaging 22.3 PPG (on 46.8% shooting) during the season, has averaged 14.4 PPG on 38.3% shooting. However, Thompson is an outstanding defender and his defense (along with Green's) could easily be a key to this series.
The pick: The Warriors haven't lived down the memory of blowing a 3-1 lead in last season's Finals and with the addition of Durant, are a better team this season than last. I noted at the top that these Finals feature the best of each conference but considering the West (in Golden St, SA & Hou) owned the three-best regular season records and Cleveland actually won fewer games than Boston in the East, one could argue that the Warriors are clearly the superior team (won 16 more games, 67-to-51) and deserve to be a solid favorite. There's no doubt that LBJ will be primed for the challenge but remember, Curry has a lot to prove as well, as does Durant. Curry under-performed when the Warriors won in 2015 and last year was downright bad in The Finals. As for Durant, if after joining the Warriors to form this "Super Team," what's his excuse if the Warriors don't win? I always try to avoid picking a series winner (my job is to pick the series game-by-game and here's a tid-bit that has me on Golden St. Like most, I feel the East has nowhere near the overall talent of the West and the last NINE times an Eastern Conference team has opened an NBA Finals on the road, it has gone 0-9 SU & ATS! Make the Warriors a 10* play.