Your 2017 NBA Finals Preview

NBA Finals on DISH

The Warriors and the Cavs play for eternal bragging rights

After the wild turn last year’s NBA Finals took, it’s tempting to throw up our hands instead of make predictions about this year and just sit back and watch. Will the Warriors lose three in a row again, somehow, against all odds? Will Cleveland overmatch some of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen? Sure, who knows? It seems like anything could happen.

Here is what we can say for sure. Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors for the championship. Cleveland was down three games to one, and they won three in a row to take it all. In the 2015 Finals, the Warriors beat the Cavs in 6. And this year, both teams have had their eyes on a rematch. They played twice during the regular season, winning a game each. So the stakes are high, and what we’re about to see could be epic.

Cavs looking strong

Both teams muscled through the playoffs in supremely authoritative fashion. Cleveland eliminated Eastern Conference winner Boston in 5 games. In the fifth game, the Cavs put up 75 points in the first half alone. In the first half alone! Also, LeBron James broke Michael Jordan’s record for playoff points at 5,987. The Celtics were basically spectators to their own demise.

So when Cleveland publicly claimed that it was harder to prep for Boston’s defense than for Golden State’s, that was probably psy-ops. Good trolling, Cavs.

Ruins and revenge

If the Cavs dominated their series, the Warriors left a trail of smoldering ruins where their opponents used to be. They swept Portland. Then they swept San Antonio. It wasn’t even close. But the Warriors have had their eye on a revenge match with the Cavs the whole time—Steph Curry in particular. After his record-setting 2015-16 regular season, his scoring trailed off during the playoffs. His leg hurt. And eventually, his team lost. This year, the Warriors added Kevin Durant, a former MVP for Oklahoma City. He’s killed it for the Warriors all year without stepping on Curry’s toes or getting in Draymond Green’s way.

But it’s fair to say Golden State acquired Kevin Durant for the sole purpose of stopping LeBron James in the series we’re about to see.

So the question is whether Golden State can stop LeBron or whether the rest of the Cavs’ tremendous offense will prove too much. On paper, the Cavs can hang in there with Golden State offensively. Cleveland is number 1 in 3-point percentage this year. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and LeBron James (shooting 42 percent in the playoffs from 3-point territory) lead here, but J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, and Channing Frye are big threats. The Warriors, meanwhile, were 8th in the league in the rate of 3-pointers allowed.

That said, the Cavs’ defense is a little more shaky than Cleveland fans like to see. And Steph Curry is widely regarded as the best shooter in NBA history, last year’s postseason notwithstanding. So it should be interesting.


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What time is the Cavs-Warriors game?

Tune in Thursday, June 1 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC for game one. Subsequent games (*if necessary) are below.

Game 2: Cleveland at Golden State, Sunday, June 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC
Game 3: Golden State at Cleveland, Wednesday, June 7 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC
Game 4: Golden State at Cleveland, Friday, June 9 at 9 p.m. on ET ABC
*Game 5: Cleveland at Golden State, Monday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC
*Game 6: Golden State at Cleveland, Thursday, June 15 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC
*Game 7: Cleveland at Golden State, Sunday, June 18 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC