Cavs perspective: Six things to look for in the NBA Finals
the trilogy is upon us
Golden State hosts Cleveland Thursday night for Game 1 of what should be a very competitive NBA Finals. But we’ve thought that before. The Warriors walk into the opener riding a perfect 12-0 playoff record. The Cavs have lost just one game on their way to the Finals, setting up a battle of two monster heavyweights...
LeBron James is Mr. Everything for the Cavs
He’s making his seventh straight Finals appearance and showing no signs of slowing. Through Cleveland’s first 13 playoff games, the 13-time All-Star is averaging 32.5 points, seven assists and eight rebounds in 40.9 minutes per game. Boston had no answer for King James, do the Warriors?
Kyrie Irving put the Warriors on notice last season
Irving averaged 27.1 points per game against Golden State in the Finals. He’s struggled a bit with his 3-point shot during the Eastern Conference playoffs, but he’s a creative and active scorer that has given Golden State fits. Stephen Curry will have his hands full with Irving.
Can the Warriors keep a body on Tristan Thompson?
Thompson hit the glass hard in last season’s Finals, averaging 10.1 rebounds per night, including 3.9 offensive boards per contest. He’s a fifth or sixth option on the offensive side of the ball, but he is one of the cogs that make the Cavs clock work. Through the 2017 playoffs, he has an offensive rating of 138 to go with a defensive rating of 110.
Can Kevin Love be a factor?
Love had his best season in Cleveland, posting 19 points and 11.1 rebounds per game starting at the four. But he was a complete non-factor for much of the Finals a season ago. This is a heavyweight battle for NBA Championship. The Cavs need Love to show up in a big way.
J.R. Smith's up and down season
A year ago, the veteran guard spent what seemed like a month walking the Earth without a shirt on after coming away with a championship. Smith is averaging just 6.6 points per game in the 2017 playoffs, but he’s shooting a quality 44.6 percent from three and providing solid all-around play. He’ll need to up his game if he hopes to be effective against one of the game’s best shooting guards in Klay Thompson.
The old guys
The Cleveland bench is packed with veterans, but they’ve had a quiet playoff run. Deron Williams and Kyle Korver are new to the group, which includes holdovers Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert. This is a talented and deep bench, but someone is going to have to turn it up a notch if the Cavs hope to repeat as champs.