Posted on May 31, 2018, by Travis Pulver

For a time, it looked like we might get some new blood in the NBA Finals this year. The Cleveland Cavaliers were not exactly playing well. To be fair, LeBron James has been playing well; the rest of the team—not so much. The Boston Celtics had a shot, but they couldn’t get the job done.

Over in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets gave the Golden State Warriors all they could handle. But facing elimination brought out the best in Klay Thompson once again in Game Six. Houston learned the hard way in Game Seven what can happen when you live by the three.

Via @JoshJackson10

So, after an 82-game regular season and a moderately challenging postseason, we have the same two teams facing off for the right to be called World Champions once again. Boring, right? Kevin Durant and LeBron James don’t think so.

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“I think it’s great,” Durant said (via ESPN). “You just get a great set of players on the court. I mean, it may not be as suspenseful as a lot of people want it to be or as drama-filled, but that’s what you’ve got movies and music for.”

“Teams have had their opportunities to beat the Cavs over the last four years, and teams have had the opportunities to beat the Warriors over the last four years,” James said (via ESPN). “If you want to see somebody else in the postseason, then you got to beat them. Or in the Finals, in that case.”

But who will be the victor this time? The basketball-loving free world thinks Golden State is going to win this one with ease. But the Cleveland-faithful are holding onto hope that LeBron James has some serious magic in the tank.

So—who’s going to win?

The Debate

On paper, this one looks like it could be pretty competitive. The Warriors had the best offense in the NBA in the regular season (113.5 points/game). But the Cavaliers are no slouch in the offense department either (110.9 points/game; fifth in the NBA).

Defensively, they are not that different either. Golden State allowed 107.5 points/game during the regular season; Cleveland allowed 109.9.

Interesting, right? Well then how come the oddsmakers have the Warriors such heavy favorites to win (13-points in Game One). The odds are just as heavy in favor of Golden State to win the series (-960 or 5:48; that means if you bet $100 you will take home $110.42).

Odds on Golden State sweeping the Cavaliers are just as enlightening (9:4; bet $100, and you take home $325). If you were crazy enough to put $100 down on Cleveland to sweep and they did— you’re taking home $10,100 (1:100 odds).

So, how come they look relatively close on paper but the odds are heavily in Golden State’s favor?

That’s easy. The Golden State Warriors have two of the best shooters in the NBA in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. They have the offensive machine that is Kevin Durant. If you’re silly enough to overlook Draymond Green, he’ll make sure you regret it.

And those are just the superstars. Their reserves are not half bad, either.

The Cavaliers have LeBron James.

Kevin Love is capable and could be a tremendous asset, but he is still in the concussion protocol. He may not play in Game One but will play eventually. The rest of the roster is—well, it really isn’t anything to write home about. One man– even if it is LeBron James — doesn’t stand a chance against the Warriors.

Via @warriors

The Prediction

LeBron James is all the Cavaliers have going for them. For Cleveland to even win a game, they will need him to go off for 40-plus while Steph Curry goes ice cold and Kevin Durant builds a brick mansion. That scenario is possible, of course.

But that would mean the Cavs win one. There is no way the Golden State offense plays so poorly that the Cavaliers win more than a single game. At the same time, it is highly unlikely the Cavaliers will suddenly become good at playing defense.

As great as it would be to see a tough, well-played, hard-fought series, the Cavaliers need more than LeBron.

Golden State will sweep the series.

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