In honor (or disdain) of finals week, I look ahead to “the” Finals: the two weeks at the beginning of summer sports fans hang out with LeBron, whichever team he belongs to and whichever team is standing in his way of a title.
At least, that has been the status quo the last four years.
Even though the NBA playoffs are still young, with two rounds of action to go before the Finals, I went ahead and made some predictions. I gave myself the liberty of choosing two possible Western Conference champions and two possible Eastern Conference ones. Here is my best stab at the four match-ups we are likely to see in the Finals.
Golden State vs. Cleveland
LeBron’s first championship run with Miami ended when his team overcoming Kevin Durant’s in the Finals; each superstar was trying to outshine the other on the biggest stage in pro ball. In a parallel way, this is LeBron’s first championship run back with Cleveland, and he very well meet the newest A-List superstar in the Finals: Stephen Curry. Curry led the Warriors to the best 2014-15 regular season record, with a winning percentage just north of 80 percent. The Davidson-alum is the second coming of Reggie Miller but with some added playmaking. The atmosphere of these games would be outrageous. Both San Francisco and Cleveland are starving for a title — and both teams have the talent to bring one home.
Prediction: Cleveland in 7
San Antonio vs. Chicago
Unlike a Golden State-Cleveland matchup, both these clubs have had the “dynasty” label attached to their name in the past. The main difference is San Antonio is still coached by a hall-of-famer, whereas Chicago’s legendary coach Phil Jackson moved on a long time ago. These teams have a similar makeup, with selfless stars and reliable role players, but I would give Chicago the slight edge if Derrick Rose plays up to his potential.
Prediction: Chicago in 6
Golden State vs. Chicago
Chicago may be the only Eastern Conference team with the ability to win in the Finals over Golden State. Behind guards Rose, Jimmy Butler and Aaron Brooks, Chicago can experiment with which guards can best defend Curry. Chicago has big men that can defend as well, which could give Golden State’s pick-and-roll some trouble.
Prediction: Chicago in 7
San Antonio vs. Cleveland
This matchup would be a treat for no other reason that it would be the third consecutive year the Spurs face off against King James in the Finals. However this time, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili would be facing a different, more youthful “Big Three.” So far, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have been playing well in their first respective postseasons. But the Spurs’ Big Three have been together for over a decade, and this is the first season Cleveland’s Big Three have been together, which makes me side with the Spurs.
Prediction: San Antonio in 6