It’s part four of the Warriors/Cavs NBA Finals saga. Welcome to our roundtable.
Antonio Losada – @chapulana
Kyle Allan – @kallan441
Evan Anderson – @Jordanian21
Felix John-Baptiste – @twosmooth2
1. What’s the no. 1 thing you’ll be watching for in this edition of Cavs/Warriors?
Antonio: Cleveland’s second unit–everybody but LeBron–performance, because I want to know if they are going to be able to convince James to remain home after it’s all said and done; and Kevin Durant, just because I expect him to finally make it clear he’s Golden State’s real No.1 player over Stephen Curry and not the other way around. Superficial stuff, but the Finals doesn’t call for much more if we’re being honest.
Allan: Who in the heck is going to come bring support to LeBron James? LeBron knows the odds are against him this series and if his teammates want him to stay, I think what they do to help this series will say a lot. If Cleveland shows a ton of fight and can bring this series to Game 6 or 7, and they very well can, that is a win within itself.
Anderson: Anybody that’s not named LeBron James in a Cavs uniform. The bench depth is key and must back up LeBron if they want to stop the reigning NBA Champions. If the Cavs plan on having LeBron stay with them next season, they must not take any games for granite and play like their lives depend on it. A tough Warriors team that’s may not be at their peak just yet will look to take another title under their belts.
John-Baptiste: Pace! It’s no secret that the Warriors want to run up and down, while the Cavs would rather slow it down and run their half-court offense through LeBron. In the Western Conference Finals, we saw the Rockets dictate the pace several times, and this had Golden State rattled. If Cleveland wants any shot to do the unimaginable in this series, they will have to dig deep, dictate the pace and grind it out on defense.
2. Whose individual legacy would be impacted the most by a Finals victory?
Antonio: If Cleveland win this title we can all close shop, leave the League alone, and start following the beautiful sport of cricket because we’d have seen everything remotely related to basketball. That would never be topped by any team ever, so there’s your legacy. If Golden State wins this title, well, then don’t look for “i told u bro” in Twitter’s search if you don’t want your phone to die from overheating. Oh, and after that, consider the Warriors’ one definitely a true dynasty (and they’re not even half done…).
Allan: For the Cavaliers, it’s obviously LeBron James. LeBron winning a championship twice vs. the team that was touted as the best team to ever be assembled in NBA history. It’d be an amazing feat just because of him doing it alone the second time around. For the Warriors, it has to be Kevin Durant because he could have jumpstarted only the beginning of one of America’s greatest sports dynasty if they are able to keep this main core together for five more years.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 13, 2017
Anderson: If the Cavs win, LeBron’s legacy will be impacted the most which isn’t hard to believe. Going up against a dynasty that’s standing out as one of the greatest teams to ever play in the NBA, LeBron would have to be stamped as a G.O.A.T. With a team like this, considered not one of the better teams he’s taken to the Finals, a win would prove his greatness. For the Warriors, this would impact Kevin Durant the most. A 2nd NBA Championship in 2 years would prove how these “Superteams” really can change the game and a franchise around. A win would prove how his transaction to Golden State was the right dynamic move.
John-Baptiste: LeBron James for the Cavs, and Stephen Curry for the Warriors. LeBron is already seen as the GOAT in the eyes of many millennials. A Finals victory would only further solidify it, and/or close the door on any GOAT competition to them. With Cleveland severely undermanned in this Finals, it is the perfect opportunity for Curry to grab that elusive Finals MVP. Many believe he was robbed in the first go-round that Andre Iguodala snagged the honors. Kevin Durant was a man on a mission last year and rightfully received the award. If Stephen Curry wants to go down with the all-time great point guards, he needs to show out and leave no questions behind.
3. Is this the least amount of pressure LeBron James has had on himself going into an NBA Finals?
Antonio: Could be. Anyways, we’re talking about LeBron. Of course, he’s not under the eyes of millions like he was when he had not won a thing back in the day and he teamed up with the likes of Wade and Bosh, but this guy is a monster competitor and he will put pressure on himself alone. No need for outsiders creating it.
Allan: I think it has to be only because Kyrie showed the impact he alone was able to bring to the Cavaliers by doing the same in one year with the Celtics. LeBron facing Game 7 adversity twice, basically doing it alone in the last series, no one expects him to win this series. When there is no pressure, he somehow still finds a way to bring more pressure, and it only makes him better.
Anderson: It’s possible. LeBron has been in this position before but has just played a very tough ECF with different teammates. He will put the pressure on himself based on how this Finals plays out and from the looks of it now, he already has pressure on his shoulders.
John-Baptiste: This is by far the least pressure LeBron has had entering an NBA Finals. We can look back at the ’07 Finals, being that those Cavaliers were also severely undermanned. However, it appears that we only realized that in hindsight, and at the time, we thought maybe LeBron stood a chance. This time around, no one is giving LeBron a shot to get even more than 1 game in this series. We’ll see what happens in the end, but it definitely is not in favor of King James.
4. Who wins the 2018 Finals, in how many games, and who wins Finals MVP?
Allan: I think the Golden State Warriors win the Finals in 7 Games with Kevin Durant taking home series MVP averaging 28+ ppg and 8+ rpg for the series.
Antonio: Made it clear already, I guess. Golden State will kick Cleveland’s forehead four times and if they’re lucky, the Cavs may take one from the Warriors just because they will disconnect at some point given their superiority and the dominance they’ll feel inflicting. Make it three chips in four years. Oh, and big congrats to KD on getting that MVP trophy after stringing five historical performances for his team.
Anderson: I’m going with the underdogs and picking the Cavs in 7. LeBron James will continue to be a competitive monster and will give this young team a championship. He will be the NBA Finals MVP averaging 30+ and 10 assists.
John-Baptiste: Warriors in 5. Kevin Durant will grab his second NBA Finals MVP.