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Can They Do It? A 2016 NBA Finals Preview

Finally.

After an entire year of waiting it’s here. Buckle up and let’s do this. Get your hate turned up to 100.

Here’s a little refresher on who the Cavs are playing:

“Obviously, walking in the locker room, it’ll be good memories, hopefully, it still smells a little bit like champagne.” – Stephen Curry

 “We won… yeah. They suck… yeah. We here… yeah. They not… nope.” – Draymond Green

“We’ve crushed teams on the basketball court, and we’re going to for years because of the way we’ve built this team. We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things.” – Warriors Owner Joe Lacob

Cheezburger celebrities memes olympics fuck you

Before we get started I’d like to remind y’all that the Cavs were getting significant minutes from Mike Miller, James Jones, and Timofey Mozgov in last year’s Finals. This isn’t the same Cavs that took the court last year. Hell, this isn’t the same team that took the court in March. This is different. Everything is different. Take all you’ve learned from the two regular season matchups and throw it out the window.

 

2016 NBA Finals Preview

Golden State Warriors (73-9 Reg. Season; 12-5 Playoffs)

Vs.

Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25 Reg. Season; 12-2 Playoffs)

 

The Stakes:  The stakes in the NBA Finals are always high, it’s the Finals. This series in on another level though. Can Golden State cement what might be regarded as the greatest season of all-time? Can Cleveland end a 52 year championship drought?  Will LeBron go to 2-5 in the Finals, or 3-4? Will the Warriors have to settle for being just the greatest regular season team ever? On an individual level, which LeBron will we see?  The distributor and leader we’ve seen all playoffs? Or the unstoppable force who had to do everything that we saw in last year’s Finals?

Key Matchups:

Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving – The MVP vs Uncle Drew will be LIT.  I hope Kyrie crosses Steph up so hard his stupid mouth guard flies out and hits Joe Lacob in the face. If Kyrie can continue his dominant scoring he will go a long way toward neutralizing the damage Curry can do. Neither player is a premier defender but anything Kyrie can do to help slow down #30 will help.

Stephen Curry vs. Matthew Dellavedova – Last year in the Finals Delly kept Curry in check for 3 games before his gas tank hit E. That won’t be an issue this year with our health and all the rest we’ve gotten. The real question this year is how many minutes Delly has a chance to log. But if he can have close to the same effect against Steph that he did last year, Lue is going to need to get creative to find him minutes.

Draymond Green vs. Kevin Love –Love thrives against bigger slower defenders (i.e. Andrew Bogut) but tends to struggle against quicker defenders who also have some strength. Green dominated Love in the regular season so Kev is going to need to step up and have some strong games in the Finals. If I was coaching (I most certainly am not, I’m sitting on my couch typing this), I would look to run some ball screens for Love on the high post with Tristan or LeBron and try to switch Green off of him and let him work against Bogut, Ezeli or Harrison Barnes. We don’t need Love to put up 25 and 15 every night but he is going to have to contribute consistently. Green SUCKED against OKC so we need to watch that tape and do whatever it is they did. It’d be wise for Kevin to invest in some athletic protection as well.

Andre Iguodala vs. LeBron James – Iguodala was one of the primary defenders against LeBron last June and overall did a good job in holding the King to a subpar shooting percentage. Let’s remember though, that LeBron was our ONLY legitimate scoring option at that point and still put up huge, huge games. With a healthy Love and Irving I think Iguodala will have a much more difficult time zeroing in on 23. LeBron will absolutely get his, and with some help this year I think he’ll torch Iguodala or anyone else they throw at him.

Steve Kerr vs. Tyronn Lue – To win this series many adjustments are going to need to be made. Seeing the adjustments the Cavs made after games 3 and 4 against Toronto is reassuring.  Last year Blatt couldn’t make the necessary changes to keep pace with Golden State after game 3.  He did have limited options but I feel Lue is more competent at adjusting on the fly as a series evolves.

X-Factors:

Draymond Green’s potential suspension: Draymond please please close your mouth when you breathe.  He’s two technical fouls away from a suspension and one flagrant away from a suspension. Anyone who has seen him play knows both of those things are very possible over the next 6/7 games. If you’re sitting near the floor at the Q I expect no holds barred shit-talking in his direction the entire game.  Let’s get in his head.

JR Smith and Channing Frye’s shooting: Word came out this week that Channing Frye was the missing piece of the Cavs chemistry puzzle.  However, it has been no mystery that his shooting and play on court has been a major piece of the basketball puzzle.  If Frye can continue his ridiculous shooting then the Cavs have a VERY good chance to win this thing.  The other guy we need to be hot is Jumpshot Jesus himself. When JR is hot he can win games single-handedly.  I believe there will be at least one game this series where he goes shot for shot with Curry to keep us in a game or protect a lead. We need both JR and Channing to show up in a big way to take pressure off the Big Three and open up the lane for Kyrie and LeBron.

Bench Play: All season long Golden State has been lauded (had their asses kissed) for their depth and bench play. Livingston, Iguodala, Speights, and Barbosa all contribute in spurts.  However, the Cavs 2nd unit obliterated the Eastern Conference on the way to having the best +/- of any lineup in the playoffs.  They also run the best play I’ve ever seen over and over and score every time. Delly back screen for RJ, ball screen for LeBron, Bron give and go, Delly drive middle and find Frye in the corner or oop to Bron.  Such sweet, beautiful basketball music. I give the Cavs the edge based on this current playoff run.

Prediction: LeBron will dunk. Kyrie will cross. Kev with double-double. JR will splash. Channing will scorch nets. Delly will scrap. Tristan will board. Shump will D. RJ will snapchat. Lil Kev will chill. And at the end of the day it’s Cavs in 6. Print the t-shirts. End the drought. Plan the parade. Our locker room will be the one that smells like champagne.

#ALLin216

Oh, and watch this:

 

-Written by @ItsGONErain who filled his quota of 1 Cavs article per year

Bottlegate’s NBA Finals preview; I’d rather have one King than two Splash Brothers

Making his triumphant return to actually doing stuff for the site; Will.

YOUR BOTTLEGATE 2015 NBA FINALS PREVIEW

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS V. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

 

When: June 4th-June 19th

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA; Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

A wise man once told me that it’s better to wear the crown than to make a splash.

This is it Cleveland. We’ve been wandering around the barren desert for 51 years and we can finally see the tropical oasis.  We’ve almost reached it before- the Browns in 87 and 88, the Indians in 95 and 97 and another Cavs team in 07…  But each time it turned out to be a mirage. This time the only things standing in the way of us and sports paradise is a 6’2”, 180 lb. baby faced shooting machine who rides around on a mini horse; Stephen Curry, and the rest of the Golden State Warriors.

Keys to the series:

  • Injuries: It sucks that this has to be the first thing listed but it could have a huge impact.  Kyrie’s damage has been well-documented. With his knee threatening to detach from his body at any second (as you would be led to believe) and his sore foot limiting any ability to drive to the hole and finish like we’re accustomed to seeing, the rest he’s gotten before game one with play a big role in how he performs in his first finals.  LeBron had what seemed like 4 or 5 “hold your breath” moments after he rolled his ankles or tweaked his back. But he’s a basketball cyborg so he bounced right back from each and every one.
  •  For the Warriors, Steph Curry took a terrifying fall (Editor’s note: He was out for like a quarter because he can’t stay on his feet. Wimp) but returned the same game and played the next.  Klay Thompson took a Jon Jones UFC style knee to the head and was literally bleeding from the ear (“Coach said it’s OK to bleed from the ear”).  He continued to play that game (great concussion protocol NBA) and puking his brains out and unable to drive after the game.  He’s ready for game 1 but it’s worth monitoring whether he will show any lingering effects.

 

  • Shooters vs. Shooters: During the regular season Golden State was 2nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency. During the playoffs the Cavs are 1st among playoff teams in that same category.  I don’t think anybody will be able to tell during the Finals. The reason: Good Lord can these teams shoot the rock. On the floor at any given time: Steph Curry, Kyrie, Klay, JR, Draymond Green, Shump, Harrison Barnes, James Jones, Iguodala, Delly, Leandro Barbosa and LeBron James.  The lowest regular season 3P% of that group is 33.7%. Almost every guard/wing in this series can shoot the three (need LeBron to bump that playoff 3P% to a little better than what he’s been shooting) so it’s going to be a matter of who is going to hit more. The Cavs need JR, Shump and Delly to stay en fuego and need LeBron to bust out of his shooting slump.

 

  • Who guards Curry/Who guards LeBron: The real answer to both questions is no one. That won’t stop both coaches from trying though.
  • Who is going to guard this guy?

Here are the best matchups for the Cavs against Curry:

  • Shump
  • LeBron James
  • Delly
  • Kyrie
  • JR

The Warriors best Matchups for LeBron:

  • Draymond Green
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Harrison Barnes
  • Klay Thompson
  • Just Kidding – None of the Above have a chance. Cavs in 4.

 

  • Don’t allow the Splash Brothers to have big quarters: Obviously both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are going to score the ball and have some big games. Steph Curry is going to make three pointers so absurd you’ll throw shit against the wall and curse your parents for ever allowing you to be born. What the Cavs need to be wary of is allowing either of them to go off and change the complexion of a Finals game in a single quarter.  Klay’s NBA record 37 points in a single quarter was well publicized but you can’t forget that he had another game in which he went for 26 in 12 minutes.  Curry also had a game in which he got hot and scored 26 in one period.  If either guy goes for 20+ in a single quarter against the Cavs I’ll tell you right now that game will be a loss.

 

  • Cavaliers need to dominate the boards: The Cavs swept the Hawks in large part due to absolute dominance on the glass.  If they can duplicate that effort against Golden State it’s going to go a long way towards winning a championship.  That’s not going to be easy seeing as Atlanta had no interest in even attempting to offensive rebound in the ECF and Golden State has some talented guys down low in Bogut and Draymond Green who both fight for the ball.  If Mozgov and Tristan do their thing and JR, Shump and LeBron make a concerted effort to chase down the long boards I think we can come out with a slight edge in the series and hopefully it will be the difference in a few games.

Other Thoughts:

I love how Golden State fans think their arena is such an intimidating place to play.  “Watch out, all this bright yellow is going to totally take you guys out of your rhythm!!” It doesn’t help that ESPN tries to make it out to be the 12th Man (also overrated) of the NBA.  LeBron is going to have no problem silencing those bunch of Raider turned Warrior clowns. Go back to your shitty Black Hole with your dial up Internet and shut up.

If — and this is a big if – the Cavs can pull this off and win a title I’m secretly a little nervous what our fans might do to the city.  Like, if there isn’t a video of at least one car on fire I’m going to be pretty shocked.  Definitely taking a cab downtown the night we have a closeout game.

Klay Thompson must not be good friends with any of his teammates. If he had any real friends you’d think one of them would have told him a while ago that “Bro, maybe that goatee isn’t the best look for you…actually, it’s not. It isn’t. Shave. Shave your face.”

This series goes a long way towards LeBron’s legacy. Win and he gets to 3-3 in NBA finals, ends a 51 year drought in Cleveland, and positions the team to repeat next year.  Lose and he falls to 2-4, the narrative becomes losing 4 finals, and people begin to wonder if his window is closing.

X-Factors:

Golden State – Draymond Green: The ultimate glue guy.  He makes the right play all the time, does the dirty work, and is a shit talker the other team loves to hate. And god do I HATE him.  The true x-factor value he holds is in how well he defends LeBron this series.  He finished 2nd in DPOY voting so I think he’ll be a tough test for the King.

Cleveland – JR Smith:  Who would have guessed JR would have gone from wasting away on the Knicks to hitting series changing shots in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  If the Cavs want to win the 2015 Finals JR is going to need to shoot the ball every bit as well as he did against Chicago and Atlanta.  In those series he was 50% from the field and 46% from 3.  After LeBron and Kyrie, he needs to be a consistent 3rd scoring option on offense.

 

My prediction (besides Cavs in 4)

Cavs in 6. 

Gonna start pricing out parade outfits.

Also, I’m headed to Oracle Arena this weekend for game 2 of the NBA Finals. Follow along on the Bottlegate Snap Chat while I get greasy in Oakland and hopefully don’t get stabbed to death. (hopefully no Raiders fans read this. Ha JK they don’t have computers nor know how to read)

Username: Bottlegate

Cavs Rewind + The Week Ahead

Cavs Rewind + The Week Ahead

By Will 

 

Looking back at last week

lookback

 Pelicans, Celtics, Hawks

 

Cavs this week –

scaredguy

 Nuggets, Spurs, Wizards, and Raptors

 

The Cavs finally looked like the sexy basketball machine we all expected last week. They finished the week 3-0 with wins over the Pelicans, Celtics, and Hawks.

Pelicans:

Ryan Anderson came out shooting like Reggie Miller from NBA Hangtime, straight fire, on the way to 21 points in the first half and the Cavs trailed by 5 at the break.  LeBron and Kyrie did LeBron and Kyrie things in the 3rd quarter and the Cavs finished strong with some Kevin Love three balls to win 118-111.

LeBron finished the game with a triple double but then the NBA stats guys went all Danny Ocean and stole an assist. Is 32-11-9 still good?

nbahangtime

Side bar: Anthony Davis is basically the human version of the movie Avatar – dude is straight from planet Pandora.  And his unibrow is like Sampson’s hair.  When LeBron passes the torch of league’s best player it’s getting handed to the ‘Brow.

avatarbball

Celtics:

I was so pissed off for 75% of this game (the first three quarters).  We got down by 18 to Tyler Zeller’s Boston Celtics. Pathetic.  Then Kyrie got pissed too and scored 13 points in what seemed like 45 seconds to start the 4th.  LeBron scored 10 in the last six minutes and Rondo looked like a fat guy in a vegan restaurant (scared and uncomfortable) when he bricked the final shot to secure the W for the good guys. Love added 12 and 15 boards.

 

Hawks:

Total domination by the Cavs.  We set a new NBA record for most made threes without a miss in a quarter (9 for 9) and actually made 11 straight before missing.  We led by 28 at halftime and won by 33.  Bron-Love-Kyrie combined for 65.  Smokin’ Joe Harris – we’re making that a thing – had 12 big ones.

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Yesterday we played like ass against the Nuggets.  Zero defense. Zero offense aside from four players. Zero intensity. Zero sense of urgency. I think we got cocky after the win streak and walked out expecting to roll without any effort.  It’s still the NBA, guys. Gotta bring it every night. (I’m blaming this loss 100% on LeBron’s sniffles)

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(Cavs defense this season)

 

UPCOMING:

San Antonio comes to town Wednesday night.  There is no way we come out flat against the defending champs.  LeBron won’t let it happen after the way he got rolled in the finals.  The Spurs have already started resting starters less than 10 games so they’ll be ready to play everyone vs. us.  Kind of sucks knowing you get everyone’s best shot every night.

We go to Washington on Friday.  I’d like to see this rivalry get renewed this year. It was always fun playing the Gilbert Arenas-Caron Butler-Antawn Jamison Wizards back in LeBron’s first stint.  I think we knocked them out of the playoffs like 4 straight years.  Paul Pierce and LeBron is always worth watching even if Paul Pierce has one foot in the grave at this point. I expect Dion to talk a lot of shit this game after Bradley Beal called him out in the offseason. Kyrie vs. John Wall is a matchup of 2 of the brightest young point guards in the league. I imagine John Wall will come out with something to prove because he was cut from the Team USA team (which Kyrie made)

The Cavs round out the week back home against the Raptors who are actually really good.  I feel like it’s tough to be less intimidating than being from Canada AND having this guy as your #1 fan:

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But the guys from up North can play.

If we finish the week 2-2 to stay above .500 I’ll be relatively happy.

 

We’ll usually post these every Monday. Just a quick review and preview of the Cavs previous week and upcoming week.