Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks in the East. Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets in the West. Which two teams will represent their respective conferences in the NBA Finals? FOX Sports Ohio writer Sam Amico asked some former pros, including a few basketball legends. Here are their predictions.
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Barry just happened to be the biggest star on the last Warriors team to win a championship. That happened in 1975, when the 6-foot-7 small forward averaged 30.6 points at the age of 30. Interestingly, he finished his career with the Rockets -- the Warriors' opponent this year. Barry predicts the Warriors will beat the Rockets, and the Hawks will top the Cavs.
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The former Lakers star is a Basketball Hall-of-Fame inductee who went by the nickname of 'Silk' for his smooth (if fairly unconventional) shooting stroke. He also spent the first two of his 11 pro seasons (1975-86) with the Warriors. Wilkes predicts the Warriors will beat the Rockets in seven games, and the Cavs will beat the Hawks in six.
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The Hall-of-Famer and two-time Olympian and former WNBA player, coach and general manager is widely recognized as a pioneer of women's basketball. She is also the first woman to coach under the NBA umbrella, having spent a year as head coach of the D-League's Texas Legends. Lieberman predicts the Warriors will beat the Rockets in seven games, and the Cavs will ground the Hawks in six.
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Before they were on the Original Dream Team, legends Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin made up the USA Basketball squad of college stars in 1984. The '84 team also included 6'9" forward Turner, prior to his 12-year NBA career (1984-96) with the Nets and Magic. Turner picks the Warriors over the Rockets in six games, and the Cavs over the Hawks in seven. "The Hawks won't beat themselves," Turner tells FOX Sports Ohio, "but LeBron James will somehow push the battered Cavs to the Finals."
The 6-foot-7 guard/forward was a true-yet-underrated marksman whose pro career spanned 17 seasons — his best coming with the SuperSonics (now Thunder) in the late 1980s. Ellis retired in 2000 after splitting the year with the Bucks and Hornets. He predicts the Warriors to top the Rockets, and the Hawks to overtake the Cavs.
Best known for being the No. 1-A to Magic Johnson's No. 1 on the 1979 Michigan State title team, Kelser also spent six productive seasons in the NBA as a 6-7 forward. The Detroit product was drafted by the Pistons and is now a broadcast analyst for the team. Kelser picks the Warriors to beat the Rockets in six games, and the Hawks to beat the Cavs in six. He also predicts the Warriors will outlast the Hawks in the Finals.
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Smith spent parts of nine seasons in the NBA, his best years coming with the Lakers, who chose the 6-3 combo guard late in the second round of the 1990 draft. The Milwaukee native played one season with the Bucks, and is currently an analyst for the Bucks pre- and postgame shows on FOX Sports Wisconsin. Smith predicts the Warriors will beat the Rockets in six games, and the Cavs will bounce the Hawks in five. He also picks the Warriors to edge the Cavs in seven games for the title.
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Once coach of the Warriors and Kings, as well as an assistant to the likes of Doc Rivers and Mike Fratello, Musselman was recently hired as head coach at the University of Nevada. His late father, Bill, coached the Cavs and was the first head coach in Timberwolves history. Musselman picks the Warriors to beat the Rockets in six games, and the Cavs to beat the Hawks in seven.