In the most important NBA Finals since LeBron James and the Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in seven to win the 2012-13 NBA Championship, tonight in California, unanimous league MVP Steph Curry hosts LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena, and here is how “King” James, “Prince” Irving, and the Cavaliers will claim their kingdom — defense with a touch of “whatever it takes” effort from players like Richard Jefferson.
While many will argue that Steph Curry was harassed with bad officiating, which led to the first ejection of his career, from a performance standpoint, the league MVP has not been himself since his injury. Whether it’s confidence or a lingering issue hampering his play, remains to be said. What we know for sure is that “Bron Bron” and the Cavs have gotten inside the head of the three best players for Golden State — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Green missed the turning point game: Game 5. Steph was ejected in Game 6, and Klay in that same match was abysmal for his standards going 9-21 from the floor, 3-10 from beyond the arc, and 4-7 from the free throw line.
All season long, Klay Thompson has been able to come off screens and pick-and-rolls and hit shots in the comfort of Steph Curry’s shadow. Thompson is now emerging as the Warrior who his team relies on in big pressure situations, after Game 6, who can be sure that he is ready for that kind of spotlight, a spotlight that just became a thousand times brighter given this is the last game of the season and it’s for all the marbles! (I’m getting nervous just writing about it, I can only imagine what he feels.) He’s since asked the fans at Oracle to “Come early. Cheer Late. Dream big.”
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will undoubtedly get another dose of Richard Jefferson’s pestering defensive play tonight. The veteran Jefferson still has enough “juice” to get in the “grill” of the Golden State players and force them to make mistakes. If LeBron can continue to haul down rebounds, make steals, and contest shots, while Tristan Thompson dominates in the paint (regardless of which side of the ball), and the rest of the Cavs do their part to force the Warriors to drive the rim with their weaker-built squad/make it almost impossible for Thompson/Curry to get open looks, the Warriors will be in a tough spot, and role players for the Bay Area brigade are going to have to beat the Cavaliers in the biggest game of practically every player’s life out there on the court tonight.
Don’t forget basketball fans, this is a retaliation series for LeBron who was without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love last year at this time. Now both are back and LeBron is angrier than ever, yet the ice in his veins remains cold, and so is the revenge he’s going to try and serve the Warriors tonight.
The only way I see Golden State winning is if Steph Curry scores early and often. The crowd in Oracle Arena is welcoming back their recently ejected superstar. They are welcoming home the back-to-back MVP player who has thrilled them all season long with the kind of shooting reserved for YouTube sensations that need hundreds of takes to hit shots he makes in-game with giant men hurling themselves at him in an attempt to block shots that usually end with swoosh. If Steph falters and LeBron, Irving, and the rest of the Cavs have a solid night offensively while continuing to play sound defense, Cleveland will bring home the title for the first time in their team’s history.
Momentum is with the Cavaliers, but the Golden State Warriors went 73-9 this season not thinking they would need to in order to be at home for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, but as luck (good or bad) would have it, they have arrived at that very moment and face a formidable foe, one in my opinion that will be too much for the shooting styles of the physically weaker Warriors led by Steve Kerr.
[Photo by Pool/Getty Images]