It’s finally here! The NBA Finals, tonight (Thursday). The eight-day layoff felt much too long and should become an item of concern, listed at the top of the commissioner’s agenda. It did give our finalists, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, time to rest and allow their injured players to heal. Klay Thompson, one half of the Warriors proficient “Splash Brothers” backcourt, who received a concussion in Game 5 from being kneed in the head by Houston Rocket player Trevor Ariza last Wednesday, is expected to play.
The other half of that backcourt is the 6-feet 3-inch, 190-pound Stephen Curry, voted the league’s MVP. LeBron James, who came in third in the voting, currently recognized as the greatest player on the planet, and his Cleveland teammates will have to defend against Curry’s clutch catch-and-shoot and his off-the-dribble shots. Defenders will find his and the Warriors’ energy exhausting. Those who question Golden State’s toughness must remember their six-game, second-round defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Center Andrew Bogut and forwards Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, the balance of the Warriors’ starting five, will make it difficult for James to drive the lane at will the way he did against the Atlanta Hawks. He can’t be stopped, but if each team maintains their total point average from the conference finals, Golden State 108.3 and Cleveland 105, Golden State wins.
Golden State, the league’s overall No. 1 seed, hasn’t won an NBA championship since 1975. They have the home court advantage. Four out of the seven—if necessary—games will be played at their arena. Both teams are headed by first-year NBA coaches, Steve Kerr for Golden State and David Blatt for Cleveland. This type of matchup hasn’t happened since the first championship in 1947, when the league was known as the Basketball Association of America, the BAA.
Game 2 is Sunday, and play resumes Tuesday in Cleveland for Game 3.