The best team against the best player—could the 2015 NBA Finals get any better?
Factors like health and home-court advantage could play a significant role as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers look to knock off the Golden State Warriors.
But at its core, this series will come down to two forces clashing violently against one another: the individual greatness of LBJ and the cumulative dominance of Golden State.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the show. It’s sure to be a great one.
How to Watch
|NBA Finals Schedule|
|1||June 4||Cavaliers at Warriors||9 p.m.||ABC|
|2||June 7||Cavaliers at Warriors||8 p.m.||ABC|
|3||June 9||Warriors at Cavaliers||9 p.m.||ABC|
|4||June 11||Warriors at Cavaliers||9 p.m.||ABC|
|5*||June 14||Cavaliers at Warriors||8 p.m.||ABC|
|6*||June 16||Warriors at Cavaliers||9 p.m.||ABC|
|7*||June 19||Cavaliers at Warriors||9 p.m.||ABC|
|NBA.com; *if necessary|
Cavs Guards Will Frustrate Curry
Stephen Curry had it easy last round.
Jason Terry and, in limited stretches, Pablo Prigioni covered him—seriously?
In Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert, Cleveland has two guards capable of making life tough on the league MVP.
Curry did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted against the Houston Rockets. He danced, dazzled and sank all kinds of three-point bombs. And Terry was lost.
“What he’s done all series, I’m taking it personal,” Terry said after Curry put 40 on his head in Game 3, per Jonathan Feigen of Chron.com. “With that said, I have to have a controlled aggression, playing defense on him, see what happens. That passive, laid-back and wait for him to do whatever he wants to do, that’s over with.”
Terry played with heart, but the 37-year-old simply didn’t have it in him to stay with Steph.
That wasn’t necessarily the case when Curry took on the significantly stouter Memphis Grizzlies defense in the conference semis.
The combination of Mike Conley and Tony Allen held Curry to a respectable stat line of 24.5 points on 42.1 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 from beyond the arc. He averaged four turnovers a game.
Look, Curry is going to get his points. It’s not a matter of stopping him, it’s a matter of containing him. James acknowledged that, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Conley and Allen were able to do just that with a never-ending attack of physical defense. But the Grizzlies ultimately lacked the offensive firepower to keep pace with the sharpshooting Dubs.
Houston had the offense but no one to check the Chef. Curry averaged 31.2 points while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 49.1 percent from distance. He averaged a mere 1.8 turnovers.
See the difference?
While not as elite, Dellavedova and Shumpert are more like the Grizzlies than Rockets. They’re scrappy, aggressive and strong.
Kyrie Irving, if healthy, said he’d start on Curry, though, as relayed by Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan:
Coach David Blatt has an interesting problem on his hands, as he’ll have to find a way to get Delly and Shump minutes on Curry while trying to hide Irving, an elite offensive weapon but defensive liability.
Curry will smack Irving around, but he’ll have a much harder time with Dellavedova and Shumpert.
LeBron Will Win MVP
These are not uncharted waters for James.
This is a guy with two titles—and two Finals MVPs—on his resume. He understands more than any other player in the series what it takes to win on the biggest stage in all of basketball.
Curry, the regular-season MVP, has been nothing short of special. He’s entertaining, fun, likeable and makes outrageous shots look routine. He’s been the best player on the best team all year long.
But he can be checked. Maybe not locked up or totally stopped, but the 6’3”, 185-pound point guard can definitely be slowed.
There is no checking, locking up, stopping or slowing James.
Golden State has solid defenders like Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, but James is too big for the former and too fast for the latter. It’s no fault of the Dubs, though, because no team has been able to stop James this postseason, either.
The Warriors will hold their own and make this series close, but LBJ will continue to overpower in the Finals and deliver Cleveland its first title in franchise history.
Curry, just 27 years old, will have more chances to win a Finals MVP.
But for now, this is still James’ kingdom.
Stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.