NBA Finals Preview Capsule
Season series: Warriors, 2-0.
Story line: The fourth consecutive Cavaliers-Warriors matchup in the NBA Finals, the eighth straight trip to the title series for Cleveland star LeBron James, and once again it’s Golden State that arrives as the overwhelming favorite. Both teams needed to survive Game 7s on the road to win their conference championships, winning those clinchers in shorthanded fashion – no Andre Iguodala for Golden State, no Kevin Love for Cleveland. James will either become the 39th player with four NBA championships, or the third to lose the title series six times.
How They Got Here: Cleveland beat No. 5 Indiana 4-3, No. 1 Toronto 4-0 and No. 2 Boston 4-3 for the Eastern Conference title. Golden State beat No. 7 San Antonio 4-1, No. 6 New Orleans 4-1 and No. 1 Houston 4-3 for the Western Conference title.
Key Matchup: Golden State’s Klay Thompson vs. Cleveland’s J.R. Smith. It’s safe to expect James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to be spectacular in this series. The Warriors have more firepower than the Cavs, but they’re only great when firing on all cylinders. Smith needs to take every last bit of available space away from the ultra-quick-releasing Thompson and not let him get shots off. Should he succeed, that’s a big edge for the Cavs.
How the Cavaliers can win: James being spectacular is a prerequisite, and Cleveland needs to bring the same defensive effort that carried the Cavs in the Game 7 win at Boston. From there, Cleveland needs to do what Houston did against Golden State – force turnovers and attack the offensive glass.
How the Warriors can win: Take care of the basketball. Do that, and they will be fine. Don’t do that, and they’re asking for trouble.
Prediction: Warriors in 5.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds
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