As the defending champion Cavaliers are one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals, the consensus is they will meet the Warriors there and, moreover, that Part III of the trilogy promises to be the most compelling yet.
Chris Mullin is not so sure.
The Hall of Fame forward and current St. John's head coach, a guest Wednesday on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast, perceives a reasonable chance of sweeping the series.
“I’m going on the record saying 4-2, just because maybe I want to see six games,” Mullin said. “I would not be surprised if it’s 4-1 or 4-zero. I think they’re that good.”
Recalling how the Warriors started sluggishly after a one-week layoff ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs, Mullin conceded there could be some rust but probably not enough to invite a loss.
“I don’t want to lay any . . . pressure, but the Warriors, to me, this team that we’re watching is going to go down in history as one of the best teams of all time,” he said. “I believe that. I think they will stay together and that’s we’re probably going to see four Hall of Fame players that have played together and have dominated and become a dynasty. That’s what we’re going to look back on.
“There’s just a huge disparity between them and the rest of the league -- and not just the Cavaliers. But there’s a huge disparity between them and the Cavaliers. “
The Warriors defeated Cleveland in six games to win the championship in 2015, but the Cavaliers recovered from a 3-1 deficit to take the rematch last June.
Though both teams have made substantive changes, Mullin is more impressed with what the Warriors have done, including the addition of four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant to a nucleus that included All-Stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Mullin pointed out that the losses of Andrew Bogut, along with subtractions to their fabled depth and chemistry, led some to wonder if the Warriors might lose the magic of the previous two seasons. He also understands that point of view.
“But as I see it now,” he said, “I think they’re deeper and have better chemistry than they did last year when they won 73 games.”
It’s not that Mullin gives the Cavaliers, who have won 11 of 12 games in these playoffs, zero chance to win the series. It is just, in his view, very slim. “Cleveland, they’ve got really good people,” he said. “Their talent, I’m not discounting at all. LeBron and Kyrie and Kevin Love, these guys are great, great players.
“I feel like the Warriors are just a notch above everybody. I really believe that.”