The other night we saw the Cavs lock in their second straight trip to the NBA Finals, and tonight we meet their opponent. If the Oklahoma City Thunder win Game 7 at Oracle then it’s time for another LeBron/Durant Finals matchup, but if the Golden State Warriors complete a 3-1 series comeback, we’re looking at a high stakes Finals rematch.
One thing we know for sure already — the Cavaliers will face a team that is head and shoulders better than any of the teams they’ve seen in this postseason. Granted, the Cavs are operating mightily, plus they’re healthy, and they look fully prepared to take on anyone, but as I see it they would have clear issues in a series against either the Warriors or Thunder.
Matching up with the Thunder will present the same problems as it does for everyone else — Westbrook and Durant. The point guard matchup is entertaining, but Kyrie Irving would have his hands full having to fend off Westbrook. The Cavs can go with LeBron or Shumpert on Russ at times, but that’s still a matchup that Irving would have to win out. Kevin Love would have to help Tristan Thompson fend off the most aggressive rebounding front line in the league while also needing to be a consistent threat offensively. I could see the OKC bigs simply wearing Love out with effort and physicality. The Cavs do have the depth advantage over the Thunder, which would have to be an emphasis.
Matching up with the Warriors presents the more pressing issue in terms of the Cavs defense. Again, Kevin Love is a big factor, because we’ve seen him struggle with the mobility of Draymond Green. We’ve seen plenty of LeBron-Love or LeBron-Frye front court looks from the Cavs in the playoffs, but against the Warriors those looks will face a much greater challenge defensively than against the Raptors, Hawks, or Pistons. The Cavs are confident they can beat the Warriors when fully healthy, and they should be, but that doesn’t make them automatically equipped to match their sharpness, quickness, and versatility.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) May 28, 2016
You don’t have to admit it, but Stephen A. Smith is 100 percent right on this. LeBron James has been atop the East for six straight years, but once again we’ll have to see if he and his team are ready for a significantly greater challenge against the best of the West in the NBA Finals.
No matter who it is, they’ll be much more capable than their competition thus far.