The smoke is beginning to clear on the 2017 NBA Finals picture. The Golden State Warriors proudly marched over a wounded San Antonio Spurs team for a third sweep in their postseason run to take the Western Conference championship. Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, LeBron James has led the Cleveland Cavaliers to 3-1 in their series against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics aren’t out of the running yet, but with just one game left to win, the Cavs are looking to shut down the Celtics’ season. It begs the question: Will Cleveland or Boston be able to take the Golden State Warriors in the Finals?
The case is pretty good for Golden State. Despite the fact that the San Antonio Spurs suffered numerous injuries before and during the series against the Warriors, it doesn’t entirely take away from the fact that Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Golden State have been a dominant force. The team went undefeated against the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz as well and won all but two of their games by more than 10 points. The Golden State Warriors deserve their spot in the final series, pure and simple, and it’s going to be a daunting task for whoever has to face them in the NBA Finals.
Of course, one should never count out LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been almost equally dominant in the NBA postseason. While the Cavaliers narrowly edged out the Indiana Pacers in all four games, they practically dismantled the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the playoffs. The Cavaliers’ only loss came in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Despite the fact that the Cavaliers have handily defeated the Celtics in all other games, Golden State will assuredly be watching that Game 3 footage and figuring out what worked against LeBron and his Cavs that night.
Boston isn’t out of the picture either, but they have much rougher odds of standing against the Warriors than Cleveland. The team has managed to eke out series wins throughout the playoffs in numerous back-and-forth challenges and tight victories against the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. Even more notable was the loss of Celtics star player Isaiah Thomas to a hip injury for Game 2 against Cleveland.
Despite the fact that the Celtics went on without Thomas in a new formation to capture their sole win in the series thus far, they would lose Game 4. Isaiah isn’t coming back this season, and even if Boston manages to buck all odds and stage a comeback against Cleveland, marching into the Finals without their best shooter is a detail that Stephen Curry and the Golden State defense will take advantage.
An even bigger detail that comes out of the Game 3 Celtics win is that the Cavaliers’ smudged playoff streak means that Golden State will be enjoying a home court advantage in the NBA Finals no matter who shows up to play. The best players will play on any court to any crowd, but the advantage the Warriors have coming into the final series, rested, undefeated, and looking strong, can’t be denied. They get to enjoy sitting back for a bit and watching who comes to the table when the Celtics-Cavaliers series comes to an end.
Can the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Boston Celtics overcome the odds and take the NBA Championship against the Golden State Warriors? Undoubtedly, there is a chance. The Playoffs are a maelstrom of surprises, upsets, and shockers, and both the Celtics and the Cavaliers have proven themselves to come this far. That said, the odds are most assuredly in Golden State’s favor and both the Cavaliers and the Celtics most certainly have a lot of obstacles to clear before the 2017 NBA Finals come to a close.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]