No, I’m not crazy I swear. This COULD happen. I never say anything is a definite, but I just have a feeling about this. After watching this season play out I can confidently say that I believe neither the Warriors, nor the Cavaliers will be in the running for the greatest prize in basketball. Before you start shouting, allow me to enlighten you.
First, let’s talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s no secret that the Cavs have been struggling. In the month of March, Cleveland posted a record of 7-10. Fans assumed this was just a regular slump and that the Cavs would bounce back to hold onto the #1 seed in the East. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Cleveland stumbled to a 4-7 record in April. They finished the regular season on a 4 games losing streak and finished 2nd in the conference. Long story short, the Cavaliers hold no momentum going into playoffs.
Cleveland also is struggling to find any team chemistry. After LeBron James’ “We need a f***ing playmaker” comment the team has been trying to add pieces. Andrew Bogut was a good idea, but in his first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform he broke his leg. That’s strike 1. Deron Williams was another good investment and the “f***ing playmaker” LeBron was referring to. Williams has been okay, but not as impactful as Cleveland may have hoped. Since with the Cavs all of his stats have declined with the exception of his field goal percentages. There’s strike 2. Finally, in an effort to add front court help following the Bogut injury they signed Larry Sanders. Sanders barely lasted a month with team. He was recently cut on April 11th for allegedly missing the team bus. And there goes strike 3. Couple that with the team’s lack of response to James’ attempts at motivation and you have a recipe for disaster.
Finally, Cleveland is tasked with a difficult road to the NBA Finals. In the first round, they are matched up with the red-hot Indiana Pacers. Lead by Paul George and LeBron James’ arch rival Lance Stephenson, the Pacers will be a difficult team to defeat. In the likely scenario they do take down Indiana they must then face either the Bucks or the Raptors. In one instance the Cavaliers will be faced with arguably the most diverse player in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the other, they will need to deal with an improved Raptors team that took them to Game 6 last season. Either way, they will be in for a challenge. Finally, if Cleveland and battle their way to the Conference Finals their likely opponent will be either the Boston Celtics or the Washington Wizards. Each team is extremely deep, has playoff experience and is home to two of the best point guards in the NBA.
So, due to all the issues I just listed, my gut is telling me that the Cavs will fall to one of these two teams in the Conference Finals.
Now that I have your attention, allow to explain why the Warriors will be denied a spot in the Finals. My first concern with Golden State making it the distance is Kevin Durant. Durant is coming off a serious knee and looks to be 100%. Although, I’m not too sure. Many doctors originally diagnosed him with a return following the first round of the playoffs. This makes me wonder if Durant returned too soon from his injury. In a scenario where Durant did in fact rush back to the lineup too soon it’s highly likely he re-aggrevates the injury. If this happens and Durant is unable to play I worry the Warriors may struggle like they did following KD’s first injury.
The second concern I have with the Warriors is their team chemistry. While all seems fine and dandy there as been instances of struggles with team unity. On two separate occasions Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have been seen arguing on the court. More notably, these instances have both occurred in crunch time loses. The playoffs naturally come with closer and more competitive games. If the two superstars personalities clash on the biggest stage, it could spell trouble for Golden State. And, with a highly emotional Green, I feel like it’s bound to happen.
My final concern is just one team. The San Antonio Spurs. The two teams have clashed three times this season and the Spurs won twice. During those 2 victories, San Antonio has won by over 25 points. I don’t know how, but Gregg Popovich has cracked the code to beat the Warriors. San Antonio is a much deeper and better coached team that Golden State. Kawhi Leonard possesses the defense talent to hold Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green or even Kevin Durant below their averages. Also, the Warriors lack the front court talent to match up with LaMarcus Aldridge. I fully anticipate Aldridge to bully anyone Golden State throws his way.
In a nutshell, the Warriors will be blocked from the Finals by either injuries, themselves or, of course the Spurs.