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NBA Finals Preview

What

The National Basketball Association Finals for the 2014-2015 season.

Who

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors.  The Cavaliers finished the regular season 53-29, good for the second best in the NBA’s softer conference.  They played admirably throughout the playoffs, however, sweeping both the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, and finishing strong against the Chicago Bulls, while posting a post-season record of 12-2.  They have established a new identify in the playoffs, playing bully-basketball and surprising many who thought they would be weakened more by the loss of Kevin Love and injuries to Kyrie Irving.

The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, won 67 games in the regular season, the most of any team since the 2006-2007 Dallas Mavericks.  The last team with 67 wins who also won the NBA title was the 2000-2001 LA Lakers.  The Warriors also had a margin of victory of 10.2 points per game, good for eighth best all-time.  A win in this series would position them well for a discussion among the best single-season teams in history.

When

Starting June 4, 2015, when the Warriors hosts the Cavaliers at 8:00 p.m. CST, in Oracle Arena in San Francisco, California.

History

The Warriors have been to six prior NBA Finals, winning three times.  The last victory, however, was in 1975, the only title the Warriors have won while in the Bay area.  The Cavaliers have never won an NBA title, having participated only once, in 2007.  At the time LeBron James was only 22 years old, an the Cavaliers were easily bested by the juggernaut San Antonio Spurs.

The teams have played 105 regular season games, and the Warriors own the edge in the series 54-51.  They have never met in the finals, and thus have never met in the playoffs.  They split a pair of games this season, with each team winning convincingly on their home court.

Prediction

Just a couple of weeks ago, I would have heavily favored the Warriors to win this series in five games.  They have been the best team in the NBA all season, have enjoyed the best health of any team in the post season, and the Cavaliers were struggling with the Bulls.  Since then, however, the Cavaliers closed out their second-round series strong and ran the table on the Atlanta Hawks.  In doing so, they established themselves as a monster team on the boards, playing physical, smart basketball, and wearing down opponents.  LeBron James, meanwhile, despite starting slow in one game against Atlanta, has played a phenomenal stretch of basketball.

All of that leads me to believe that the series will be closer than originally believed.  I do, however, still think that the Warriors have too much firepower, and too many athletic, big defenders to send at James, for Cleveland to Overcome.  Warriors in six, winning in front of LeBron’s home crowd.