What are the greatest things the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are seeing in their fourth consecutive NBA finale? How can Cleveland endure the excitement?
Our NBA experts answer the big questions that go into the finals.
. 1 What is the most important thing for the Cavaliers in the Finals?
Amin Elhassan, ESPN.com: Can the defense of Cavs be more consistent? Glass half full: A defense that was bottom of the table during the regular season in the NBA managed to reach about the league average in the postseason, allowing 105.9 points per 100 possessions. Glass half empty: This defensive rating comes with a lot of variance, with Cleveland posting six games in which it allows more than 1
Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: Your 3-point shooting. They've made more than 10 3-pointers only once in a row with the Celtics, another reason their victory was so impressive. They will need more offense to have a small chance in this series.
Royce Young, ESPN.com: LeBron's fuel gauge. Assuming he can use those few days to refuel the tank, how far can he push it if the cargo he's carrying drains it? The Celtics had some tough defenders, but the warriors can glimpse LeBron and keep their options fresh.
André Snellings, ESPN Fantasy: We know what we can expect from LeBron. The main requirements of this series are next to LeBron's brilliance Kevin Love, who plays on an all-NBA level and "the others" miraculously become something stronger than the sum of their parts. The latter is the biggest key, because the Cavs RPGers, who have found an unexpected level and tear down their best clips while physically defending the dubs, are the only chance for this final
Jeremias Engelmann, ESPN Insider: Can the LeBron supporting role score consistently? In two of their three playoff series, no Cav except LeBron scored more than 12.5 points per game. That kind of performance could take you through the East – though with two Game 7s it was probably a bit too close for comfort – but it will not be enough to win a title against this historic Warriors team. Kevin Love (if healthy) and J. R. Smith, both under 50.5 percent of real shots, need to step up their games
Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider: How Engaged Can LeBron Be Defensive? If James can achieve something at this end of the field that results in almost maximum effort – which usually happens when teammates can help to share the load offensively – then Cleveland can be surprisingly good for a defense that faces the regular season 29th place takes. especially with Jeff Green in power forward instead of Kevin Love. But all too often LeBron saves energy for the defense because he does everything he has to do in terms of the offensive.
. 2 What is the most important thing for the warriors in the final?
Snellings: Injury and suspension. If all four All Stars of the Warriors play each game, the Cavs are unlikely to do them any harm.
Golden State won a fight of stamina against the top star in the West to host a fourth NBA final against Cleveland.
Love him or hate him, LeBron James's performance against the Boston Celtics in the final of the Eastern Conference deserves recognition and reverence.
Pelton: Whether they can find a consistent fifth player next to their stars. Ideally, this would be a healthy Andre Iguodala, but it remains unclear when Iguodala can return to the lineup. In his absence, we saw Steve Kerr shooting Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney, Shaun Livingston, and Nick Young at this point. No one offers the combination of ground clearance and defense that makes Iguodala an ideal part of the Hamptons 5.
Windhorst: The fifth man. Who will use Steve Kerr as his fifth starter, especially if Iguodala stays away for a bit? What he does will affect love. When Kerr gets big and stays with Looney, Love can play. If he is small with Young or the Hamptons 5, as soon as Iguodala is back, it is difficult for the Cavs to play Love and Tristan Thompson.
Elhassan: Can you remain engaged and motivated enough? It was an issue throughout the year. The Warriors are bored of the lack of competition, and Steve Kerr has tried every trick and gambit to bring this team into focus. In the postseason, we have seen this apathy manifest with dominant achievements, followed by listless losses. The length of this series will correlate directly with how much the warriors feel they are damned.
Young: Health. The warriors could certainly use Iguodala to help LeBron, but apart from other significant injuries elsewhere, they should be alright. However, everything can quickly turn with the pulling of a muscle or ankle rolls – as the Warriors Rockets series proves.
Engelmann: Iguodala's injury is a big question mark for her. If the 2015 final MVP can not play – he only has a second opinion on his injured left knee – the Warriors are an elite wing defender they could have thrown on LeBron. Looney and Bell, while defending well, lack the experience to defend LeBron well, while Draymond is the most effective help defender.
3. If the Cavs win, that means …
Pelton: LeBron James certainly had a superlative finale – another finale of superlatives. I think that LeBron was the most valuable player in the first two incarnations of this series (in defeat in 2015 and 2016, when he led the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 draw). It is unlikely Cleveland could win this series without James playing the same role again.
Windhorst: A big party in Cleveland and LeBron is likely to stay. But they are big outsiders, and LeBron's legacy in Cleveland and beyond is already secured.
Young: LeBron has painted his masterpiece. It will be his Mona Lisa, the perfect punctuation for the biggest postseason of all time. When the Cavs win, LeBron adds the best bullet point to his resume, and despite having fewer overall titles against his GOAT counterparts, he has the best championship of all.
Engelmann: Probably that LeBron has surpassed Michael Jordan as the best player ever. Jordan still has more titles and will always have the odds of winning the finals, but he also benefited from much stronger support casts like Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman. And while Jordan faced strong teams on his way to six titles – four times more than his final opponents over 60 games – none of them showed as much talent as this Warriors team.
Snellings: Somewhat remarkably and overwhelming happened. But also that either the dubs were decimated by injuries or the other Cavs have pulled a rope-a-dope over the entire NBA, which surpasses what has done to Muhammad Ali George Foreman in Zaire. With what we have seen from these two teams, there is nothing LeBron could do to lift this supporting role (as she played) to victory. So a Cavs victory means something important has happened to change the dynamics.
Elhassan: The warriors have stopped giving a final stroke. A Warrior Injury / Suspension has Occurred and LeBron gets the minor role he got in the Raptors series.
. 4 When the warriors win, that means …
Young: Ruled inevitably. The warriors were gathered to win them all, and that's what they need to do on the warpath. The Rockets were the best chance to derail, but as luck returned to Golden State with Chris Paul's injury, it was a matter of when, not if.
Windhorst: They are a legitimate dynasty, and it will probably be pretty satisfying, for this was the most turbulent season in their run. They are expected to win and stay for a long time. They are used to this pressure.
Snellings: Water is still wet, the sky is still blue and Bruce Leroy beats Shouffon only in the movies.
Pelton: Things have taken place as expected! It also means that Golden State would take its place among the dynasties of the NBA with two consecutive titles and three in four years.
Elhassan: They "Respected" the Game with Their Commitment (19659002) Engelmann: The League should take harsher measures to discourage superteams like these warriors. Part of what sport is so much about is unpredictability. If the Warriors are favorites to enter the season and win the title (almost) every year, the NBA risks becoming boring. One way to combat this would be to increase the tax on luxury and / or repeaters.
. 5 Who will win the series and in how many games?
Engelmann: Warriors in 7th Vegas Bookmakers expect the series to be over quickly – they favor the Warriors by 11 points in Game 1 and give the Cavs only a 13% chance of winning everything – but me Suppose LeBron will continue to play like a superman and take this Cavs team for at least a couple of wins.
Elhassan: Warriors in 5th I see the game of Cavs One because I have no confidence in Golden State's ability to take its opponent seriously, and you have to believe that LeBron's reliable allround -Dominance accompanied by him at least once with a hot 3-point shooting teammates
Young: Warriors in 5. Most people will feel the same way: out of pure respect for LeBron I will say that the Cavs get a game. But there's just too much resistance on the other side, and if anyone in the finals has no out-of-body experience – with a look at JR – the cavs just can not keep up.
Snellings: I'd love to throw Kevin Love back in his days in Minnesota (and while we're at it, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood have joined). It would be great to see the Cavs play a physical, stifling team defense and drive the Warriors back on their heels. It would be nice to see LeBron put together such a transcendent NBA finale that even Stephen A. Smith decides to be in good with the LeBron / Jordan comparisons. That would be very exciting to see. But realistically, where do we stand now? Warrior in 5th
Windhorst: I make no predictions. But I've heard that the Warriors have the best lineup of all time, when they're healthy. I never doubted that they would be here, even at halftime of Game 6 and 7 against Houston.
Pelton: Warriors in 5. Decreasing due to hot cavaliers, LeBron's singular size, or Golden States focus, I think Cleveland will most likely win a game in this series, but no more – a second one on top of each other following gentleman's sweep between these two teams.