While Cleveland hit a new gear and strolled easily to the NBA finals, the Golden State Warriors are coming off an insanely hard-fought, seven-game battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder (and Reggie Jackson couldn't be more thrilled).
The Warriors won last year's title in six games, but this isn't the same Cavs team. They are completely healthy, much less reliant on LeBron and have the offensive firepower that could rival even Golden State. What they don't have is the Warriors' elite defense. It should be a great series, but I think my money is still on the west coast kids.
Kyrie Irving, JR Smith and Kevin Love can hit as many 3-pointers as they want, they are still no Steph Curry. The dude's ability to hit anything, especially off the dribble, is simply insane. It can't even really be game-planned against, and opponents instead just have to hope to survive it (as OKC nearly did).
But just as there is only one Curry, there is still only one LeBron, and nobody can dominate both ends at multiple positions, serving multiple roles like James can. Even this older, balder version of James is able to take over a game in myriad ways and enables everyone around him to play to their fullest potential.
What the series may come down to, then, is cross-matching and forcing the opponent to play to your game plan. Can Cleveland play big, win a huge margin in the rebounding wars and eke out a surprising win or two? Can the Warriors go small, put Love in an endless series of pick-and-rolls and essentially force him out of the series?
Which sacrificial lamb gets to guard Curry? Is it possible that Andre Iguodala wins his second consecutive finals MVP by shutting down James? Can Cleveland's bet that they can outscore the vaunted Warriors really pay off?
I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know these finals do seem like they will be fun. Let's go!