Editor’s note: Jeff is a sports and whiskey enthusiast with the humor of an adolescent boy. Follow him on Twitter @springthenoise for satirical sports stories.
By JEFF SPRINGMEIER
That’s right everyone, who could have ever predicted? Cavs vs. Warriors Round 3! Unless you have been in a coma (or a self-induced whiskey coma like myself) for the past year, it’s the matchup we have been waiting for. With the Cavs closing out the Celtics last night, to the surprise of no one except racist New Englanders, the world is watching who will win the rubber match. Does LeBron still have enough in his tank? Does the addition of KD make the Warriors a champion again? Will Steph Curry ever hit puberty? Now, I won’t answer any of these questions, but, I would like to take the time to preview this matchup of two NBA powerhouses.
Regular season matchups
Cleveland and Golden State split the regular season series, 1-1, both wining on the opposing team’s floor. But they haven’t seen each other since the middle of January! A lot can happen in 4 months! Jeeze, I went from IPAs to hefeweizens in that time frame! Don’t gauge the series based on the regular season performances. LeBron turns into a Monstar (yes, I referenced Space Jam) in the playoffs and the Warriors haven’t lost (with Klay playing) since Klay Thompson signed this dude’s toaster.
Let’s keep the main stars out of this. LeBron, Kyrie, and Love all need to play out of their mind for the Cavs and Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green will continue to play their game (although contesting Curry and Thomspon 3’s will be huge for the Cavs). I want to talk about the grinders on each team who day in and day out grab the stars by the coattails and take a ride. But in this series, those coattails have been ripped off and each team will need their role players to step up.
The 2015 finals MVP and long-time veteran needs to make his presence felt defensively early, and often. I wouldn’t be surprised if Iggy gets physical and gets a tech in game 1. His role is to shut down Lebron whatever way possible. Even though he is aging, Iguodala can be a force to reckon with.
Javelle McGee/ZaZa Pachulia
Andrew Bogut! Wait, that’s not right. But McGee and Pachulia need to play the role Bogut had done for the Warrior’s last year: rim protector and boards. The Warriors need to step up their offensive rebounding and contest Tristan Thompson down low. And surprising the gangly giants can run the break well too.
Probably the most underrated player on the Cavs roster. Thompson is a force down low and a huge matchup problem for the Warriors. Thomspon needs to dominate the boards and protect the rim when Curry and Durant decide to drive.
I mean come one, when you think of white guys jacking up threes all day, Korver is the whitest in the business. But the dude can ball. If Korver can get in double digits, and take some of the load off the big three, the Cavs can be contenders.
Iman Shumpert/JR Smith
Defense! Defense! Defense! These two need to continue their defensive tenacity and contest the Warrior’s threes. If they can hold the Warriors to around 35% from three, look for Cleveland to be victors.
I have no clue who is going to win this series. Vegas obviously favors the Warriors, but I think a lot of money will be going the Cavs way as well. My bet will be on the series prices after game one. I will be taking the loser of game one, and putting my chips on them to win the series. Think about it; Warriors win, Cavs become bigger underdogs, and the payout is better if they win. Cavs win game one, you can get the Warriors at a cheaper price, and still have good odds of them winning the series.
Every NBA fan has been waiting for this moment all year. There is no doubt this is going to be an exciting series. Whoever wins, I think the NBA ratings will win even more.