NBA Finals Preview

What should we expect in this year's rendition of the Cleveland-Golden State Finals matchup?

Tue, 29 May, 12:04 AM


It's that time of year again - the yearly Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.


Just as it looked like we were certain to have a different matchup, with both Cleveland and Golden State down 3-2 in their respective Conference Finals series, they both win the final two games including away Game 7 wins to give us the fourth consecutive rendition of this Finals fixture.


The Warriors unsurprisingly open up as extremely short favourites to take the series with Cleveland really limping into the finals in what was supposed to be a relatively straightforward series against Boston. Their offense in particularly struggled in their road games, averaging just 87 ppg in those four games. Their Game 7 win more a story of Boston's extremely poor shooting rather than Cleveland's great play. They're going to have to greatly step up their offense if they want to even think about winning this series.


While Golden State also won their Conference Finals in 7 games, it was against much tougher oppositon. The Warriors were really tested at times by Houston's hot runs and rebounding strength and as we saw back in 2015 when the Golden State dynasty begun, they got a bit lucky through opposition injuries. Who knows if they would've still progressed if Chris Paul had played in Games 6 and 7 but it's certain that Golden State head into the Finals with the better form and, indeed, the better team.


Comparison of Teams in 2018 Playoffs:






Points Per Game



Opposition PPG



Field Goal %



3-point %



Turnovers Per Game



Turnovers Forced



Key Players




If you know anything about basketball, you know how important Lebron James is to the Cavaliers. Without him, they might not be in the playoffs at all, let alone on the brink of Championships year in year out. He has been uneblievable yet again in his 15th season, averaging 34ppg at 54% these playoffs and has played all 100 games Cleveland has played this season. It took some herculean efforts to get Cleveland through the Indiana series and then again in the Boston series - efforts which no other current player could consistently do and arguably no player ever could've done. It's no secret that the key for the Cavaliers to have any sort of success in this series rests on his shoulders.


He may not be a NBA superstar like many others in this Finals matchup, but keep an eye out for Kyle Korver. He had a bit of a lacklustre series against Boston but in what should be more open, free-flowing games against Golden State, expect Korver to find some rhythm and do what he does best - shoot threes. When he knocks down shots, it totally opens the game up for Cleveland by taking attention away from Lebron.


Another to watch out for is Larry Nance Jr. He provided crucial minutes in the Boston series and was extremely strong on the boards, grabbing important rebounds and taking advantage of many second-chance opportunities. If there's one weakness in Golden State, it's securing the boards so I expect Nance to have a big impact in the minutes he gets, along with teammate Tristan Thompson who is also a beast on the boards.


Golden State:


Kevin Durant has been his usual self, deadly from mid-range but a bit below average from deep. Nevertheless, he's a force that none can effectively defend and sometimes it feels like he scores whenever he feels like it. Averaging just under 29 ppg, he'll be a significant part of Golden State's offense as he always is


Steph Curry has been a bit patchy these playoffs but looks to have found his stroke more consistently of late, shooting over 40% from 3 in Games 6 and 7 against Houston. It will be interesting to see him matchup against George Hill who is a strong defender. Despite Curry's dominance in recent years, Cleveland have held him well in check when they've met in the Finals and this year faces a better defensive opposing point guard. Something to keep an eye out for.


Someone who always has the potential to be a game-changer is Klay Thompson. After a quiet few games, he came alive in Games 5, 6 and 7 scoring a red-hot 16/28 from 3 over those games. Similar to Korver (but on a more frequent basis), Klay is often a major spark for Golden State's offense and they'll always look to get him going from deep.




It's very, very difficult seeing how Cleveland keeps this series close, based on what we saw from them against Boston. Golden State are simply the better side and have been the entire season. This is definitely the worst Cleveland side we've seen in the four Finals matchups and you only have to look back to last year when Golden State dominated to win the series 4-1 against a Cleveland side which had Kyrie Irving. With no Kyrie and an offense which can't be trusted on a regular basis, Golden State to win the series, as the price suggests, is almost a lock. 


If you're looking for value, I think it's quite likely Golden State will sweep the series 4-0. Sure, Cleveland may snatch one at home to avoid the sweep like they did last year, but it's just hard to see that happening. 

Golden State v Cleveland

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