NBA Playoffs 2016: Championship Schedule and Cavaliers vs. Warriors Projections

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2016

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts in the third quarter of Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's hard to imagine a better matchup for the NBA Finals than a rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Toronto Raptors put up a good fight in the Eastern Conference, while the Oklahoma City Thunder had three chances to win the Western Conference before falling short. However, the best teams are still alive, and fans will get a chance to see the two juggernauts battle each other on the biggest stage in the sport.

Now, each team will have to perform at its best to raise the trophy at the end of the series. No matter who wins, the fans will likely get quite a show along the way. Here is the full schedule for the upcoming series to make sure you don't miss a second:

NBA Finals Schedule
GameDateMatchupTime (ET)TV
1Thursday, June 2Cavaliers at Warriors9 p.m.ABC
2Sunday, June 5Cavaliers at Warriors8 p.m.ABC
3Wednesday, June 8Warriors at Cavaliers9 p.m.ABC
4Friday, June 10Warriors at Cavaliers9 p.m.ABC
5*Monday, June 13Cavaliers at Warriors9 p.m.ABC
6*Thursday, June 16Warriors at Cavaliers9 p.m.ABC
7*Sunday, June 19Cavaliers at Warriors8 p.m.ABC
*if necessary; source: NBA.com


TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 27:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers lays the ball up against the Toronto Raptors in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Can
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

The Warriors were the best team in the NBA this season, and arguably ever, after setting a record with 73 wins. However, they were in serious trouble after going down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals. This could have been the end of a great season, but instead the squad showed its mettle and came back with three straight wins to reach the next round.

Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group explained what this meant for Stephen Curry:

Marcus Thompson @ThompsonScribe

If there was any question about where Curry stands among the game's best, he just answered by closing out three straight vs KD and Russ

Curry was outstanding when it mattered, averaging 32.7 points per game in the final three wins, including 36 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the field in Game 7. The two-time MVP showed why he earned those awards at key moments in the series.

There isn't a lot you can do defensively when he hits shots like this:


Steph hits from way out on @NBAonTNT. #NBARapidReplay #WARRIORSvTHUNDER https://t.co/NZfqk1hg39

Meanwhile, the rest of the Golden State roster stepped up as well, with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green also playing well in the final three games. As good as Curry is, the team's strength is its depth, with impact players coming from everywhere and providing an advantage against opposing teams.

The lack of depth was a major problem for the Cavaliers a year ago in the NBA Finals, which seemed to turn into LeBron James versus everyone. With Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving both sidelined by injuries, the team had to rely on contributions from Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith, which was not an ideal scenario against a strong opponent.

It was almost a miracle Cleveland was able to extend the series to six games before falling short.

That won't be an issue this year with a healthier and deeper roster that's ready to contend for a championship. The players are not only active, but they are also on the same page, something head coach Tyronn Lue has credited the team's success to.

Lue explained how his team's chemistry improved after a March loss to the Brooklyn Nets, per Tom Withers of the Associated Press:

We had a chance to sit down and talk. I just think the Big Three sitting down and getting on the same page of understanding what they need from each other on a nightly basis and understanding that they have to trust each other and also trust the team. We had that talk in front of everyone and everyone kind of gave their opinion and kind of talked about what they expected and what we needed to do better.

From that day on, we kind of took off and we became a better team.

It's hard to argue with the results. Cleveland won its first 10 games of the playoffs, and after two losses to the Raptors, it bounced back with a pair of dominant performances in Games 5 and 6. 

With the way James can take over games and get help from his talented teammates, the Cavaliers will give the Warriors as much of a challenge as they have seen in the last two years.

However, Golden State continues to answer the call regardless of the opponent. Cleveland has no one who can stop Curry or Thompson, and the Splash Brothers should be able to knock down enough three-pointers to win the key games when it matters.

Add in home-court advantage for a team that went 39-2 at Oracle Arena during the regular season, and it's hard to imagine the Cavaliers pulling off the upset.

It will be a memorable series that goes the distance, but the Warriors will repeat with another title.

Prediction: Warriors win in seven.

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