It’s time for the NBA Finals. And now we have our two contenders. On one side we have the returning champions, Golden State Warriors. On the other, the Toronto Raptors. It’s nice to see at least one different team going to the Finals this time, but with a LeBron-less Eastern Conference, some new team was bound to step up. But which team has the edge? Who has the better chance of being the champ?
The Warriors once again had a great year and went 57 – 25. They clinched the number one seed in the playoffs, and overall (up to this point), have cruised through both the regular season and playoffs easily. Some other things they have going for them is sporting almost the exact same team from a year ago. They still have Curry, Thompson, Durant, and Green. They also added Cousins. This means they have an All-Star starting lineup. I know Durant and Cousins could miss some of the Finals games, or at a minimum be on a minutes restriction, but this team has a lot of firepower on it. It just really shows how good and valued Curry and Thompson really are. The Warriors ranked number in one points scored and field goal percentage this year. They were also third in 3-point percentage and 3-point shots made. Additionally, they were first in assists. So, they have no problem sharing the ball and passing it around. Also, they also ranked number one in blocked shots. It looks as if the Warriors can do it all from scoring and passing to blocking. They don’t have much of a weak spot. They can also boast the same head coach as previous seasons, great team chemistry, as well as the experience of being here and doing this all before.
The Raptors look to be in a rather tough spot, but there is still good news for them. The good news comes in the form of Kawhi Leonard. I’ll come back to him in a second. I know numbers aren’t everything, but the Raptors did go 58 – 24 which helped them grab the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors have also had a tougher road getting here, especially in the previous round against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. After losing the first two games of that series, I thought the Bucks had it all locked up for them (was I ever wrong!). The Raptors flipped a switch and Leonard put his team on his back and carried them to four straight wins and into the Finals. The Raptors don’t have the flashy numbers like the Warriors, but they did rank seventh in points scored and sixth in 3-point percentage. Putting stats aside, something that has to be mentioned is that Leonard will be the most complete player on the court, at least while Durant is out. He will be someone that the Warriors have to account for, for every second of this game. Not only that, but he can score with an array of different moves. When he’s not scoring, he commands so much attention that he opens up spots for his teammates to get their shots in.
Both teams have things going for them. One team with lots of success, the other with lots of hope. Each team has a weapon up their sleeve. The Warriors coach Steve Kerr is one of the best at adapting to each game and adapting to things that happen in the course of those he games. He doesn’t let the little things rattle the team and is able to change things on the fly. His team trusts him and that is why they have so much success. The Raptors have the best player on the floor. Leonard can do it all and makes things look much easier than they really are. He plays offense, defense, and then creates shots for his teammates. If he plays as well as he has done up to this point, he will be a real terror for the Warriors.
I think these games will be close and come down to the wire, but in the end, I think team talent and past experience at this stage will help the Warriors win.
Warriors in 7