Why War­riors will win the NBA Fi­nals this year

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - PAGE 2 BITS - BY TIM REYNOLDS

There is a way to beat Golden State.

It de­mands de­fense.

Let the War­riors shoot 50 per­cent, they’re al­most cer­tainly go­ing to win. Let the War­riors score 103 points, they’re al­most cer­tainly go­ing to win. It’s re­ally that sim­ple. To use LeBron James’ word, they are a jug­ger­naut. And that jug­ger­naut will re­quire the Cleve­land Cava­liers to play air­tight de­fense in these NBA Fi­nals.

De­fense has been the ques­tion for the Cava­liers all sea­son.

That is why Golden State is my pick to win the NBA cham­pi­onship.

For the record, I picked Cleve­land at the start of the sea­son pri­mar­ily for two rea­sons. One, James is the best player alive, and his en­tire mo­ti­va­tion now seems to re­volve around col­lect­ing more rings. Two, I wasn’t con­vinced that adding Kevin Du­rant to the War­riors’ loaded mix would be as seam­less as Golden State has made it look.

James prob­a­bly has never been bet­ter than he is now. But with Du­rant, the War­riors prob­a­bly have never been bet­ter than this, ei­ther.

Let’s get back to those num­bers. When the War­riors score 103 this sea­son, they’re 78-6. When they score 102 or less, they’re 1-9. (That ra­tio also holds true go­ing back to last year’s Fi­nals, Golden State go­ing 3-0 when scor­ing 103 or more, 0-4 oth­er­wise.) And the last time the War­riors shot bet­ter than 50 per­cent and lost was in Novem­ber — Novem­ber 2014, that is.

When shoot­ing over 50 per­cent, they’ve won 106 con­sec­u­tive games, the last 43 of those com­ing this sea­son.

The ar­gu­ment from CavsTwit­ter upon hear­ing those num­bers likely will re­volve around how Cleve­land has clamped down on Golden State in each of the past two Fi­nals, and that take is ac­cu­rate. Golden State shot 44 per­cent against the Cavs in the 2015 Fi­nals, 43 per­cent last sea­son. Clearly, Cleve­land un­der­stands what it takes to frus­trate the War­riors just enough.

Ex­cept those War­riors aren’t these War­riors.

And even though the Cava­liers rolled through the play­offs, go­ing 12-1, they’ve al­lowed op­po­nents over 100 points in all but three of those games.

Du­rant is the dif­fer­ence. Stephen Curry, Klay Thomp­son and Dray­mond Green were daunt­ing enough with Har­ri­son Barnes. Now with Du­rant in that mix in what essen­tially was Barnes’ spot, the War­riors have found dif­fer­ent di­men­sions both of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively. Barnes av­er­aged 9.3 points in the Fi­nals a sea­son ago, on 35 per­cent shoot­ing. There’s no way Du­rant will get held to that sort of num­bers.

The War­riors have dealt with ad­ver­sity — par­tic­u­larly Du­rant’s knee in­jury and coach Steve Kerr’s ab­sence caused by his on­go­ing back prob­lems. They know the pain that comes with los­ing a Fi­nals, par­tic­u­larly one where a 3-1 se­ries lead gets wasted. Du­rant has heard so much crit­i­cism for leav­ing Ok­la­homa City and mov­ing to Golden State last sum­mer.

They haven’t blinked. They’re 27-1 in their last 28 games. They’re 12-0 in the play­offs. They’re rested. They’re healthy.

James will push Golden State to the limit. But in the end, the 2016 loss will be avenged and the cham­pi­onship con­fetti will fi­nally fall on Du­rant.

War­riors in seven.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.