NBA Finals Preview: Opportunity To Rest Ensures Star-Studded Series

With word coming from Golden State Head Coach Steve Kerr that he expects injured shooting guard Klay Thompson to return in time for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, this season’s swan song series is set to be a star-studded affair.

Thompson averaged 21.7 points per game during the regular season for the Warriors, and heads into the Finals having scored 19.7 per contest so far during the Playoffs. Thompson suffered a concussion after a blow from the knee of Houston’s Trevor Ariza during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. According to NBA policy, Thompson cannot return until he has cleared the league’s concussion safety protocol. This policy requires players pass a series of tests without experiencing further concussion symptoms before they can return to practice. Kerr is optimistic Thompson will be available.

“I’m anticipating he’s going to be there.”

Kerr is so confident Thompson will be available for the Finals that he is preparing his team as if he will be there.

The Warriors will need Thompson ready to go in the Finals to ensure they have all their offensive and defensive weapons available. Cleveland’s Lebron James always demands attention, and while he likely won’t match up against him, Thompson being available gives the Warriors more defensive options.

James scored 25.3 points per game during the regular season and hasn’t slowed down heading into the Finals, averaging 27.6 per game in the Playoffs. James is a threat in more ways than one, also dishing out eight assists and grabbing more than 10 rebounds per game in the postseason, as well. Whoever ends up guarding him in the Finals will have their hands full.

The League’s 2015 Most Valuable Player, Stephen Curry, enters the Finals scoring 29 points and dishing six assists per game. Curry, who averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists during the regular season, presents a unique matchup problem in the Finals for the Cavaliers, who lost guard guard Kyrie Irving during the Eastern Conference Finals against Atlanta.

Irving was presumed done for the season, but he said Friday he felt confident he’d be ready for the Finals.

“I’m in a good spot right now. I’m really happy, especially where I am … I’ll be ready to go.”

With Thompson likely to return, and Irving sounding more likely by the day, the rest that the break between the Finals and Conference Finals has done wonders for these two teams. The court will be full of big-name players having strong seasons. It’s up to Coach Kerr to decided who best to guard James, or perhaps rotate defenders throughout the game, and the Cavaliers will have their hands full trying to keep Thompson and Curry in their sights.

See how it all shakes out in Game 1 of the NBA Finals beginning on Thursday.