NBA Finals Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Golden State Warriors will face off with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 NBA Finals (Photo: Instagram)

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Kyle Hutchison

The matchup for the 2015 NBA finals is set, and it’s not surprising given the talent on both teams. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors handled the Houston Rockets to move on to their first NBA finals since 1975. The Warriors finals berth comes a day after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Atlanta Hawks.

Both the Cavaliers and Warriors share several similarities. Each team has a long history of losing: Cavaliers have never won a NBA championship while the Warriors won three but two were while they were still the Philadelphia Warriors. The Warriors have more of a storied history than the Cavaliers with such greats as Rick Barry and Chris Mullins. The most recent generation of basketball fans, knows the Warriors for the Baron Davis lead squad that upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 NBA playoffs.

Cleveland has a less-storied history, but their recent years make up for that. The Cavs had several years of making the playoffs and losing in the first or second round, but after drafting Lebron James in 2003 that changed. Lebron lead the Cavs to several Eastern conference finals, but only one NBA finals until this year.

The matchup is a good one. Battling underneath the net will be Golden State center Andrew Bogut and Cleveland center Kendrick Perkins. Both players are known for their size and defensive ability. Bogut is the more talented of the two and has proven that playing against top centers on their road to the finals (Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Houston’s Dwight Howard and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis).

One of the more intriguing matchups will be splash brother Klay Thompson against Cleveland’s best on-ball defender Iman Shumpert. Shumpert, who was acquired around the trade deadline, is known for his excellent defensive abilities and should give Thompson some trouble. Thompson is a question mark after sustaining a concussion in the final game of the Western conference finals. But, the usual recovery time for a mild concussion is a week, so the week off will greatly benefit Thompson.

The break in-between series benefits the Cavaliers’ star point guard Kyrie Irving also, who has been struggling with knee soreness. According to CBS sports, Irving has been practicing, but he remains questionable for game 1 of the NBA finals. If Irving can play, we will see a matchup between two of the best young point guards in the NBA.

Reigning MVP, Stephen Curry, has shown to be the better of the two at this point in their careers, but that is largely due to Kyrie Irving’s injury woes. If Irving is a no-go look for Curry to see a lot of recent “bad boy” Matthew Dellavedova.

The most important matchup of the series will be whoever is guarding Lebron James. Forward Draymond Green will see the bulk of the time against Lebron, and he has earned that right finishing second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. However, Green will need help from the bigs when Lebron drives to the basket. Lebron can out-muscle and out-quick any forward he plays against when he drives to the paint.

I see this series going six games with the Warriors coming out on top, but both teams are deep and very talented so anything can happen. The series begins June 4th at Golden State’s Oracle Arena.

Kyle Hutchison can be reached at khutche@udel.edu

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