The 2015 NBA Finals begin TONIGHT. After an extended break, due to both Conference Finals being so short, the Golden State Warriors will be tipping off tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For some, this was the matchup everybody expected. One of the most dominant teams in NBA history going up against the best player of this generation. Current MVP Steph Curry taking on four time MVP LeBron James. West vs East, Cleveland vs the Bay Area, annoying twitter fans vs more annoying twitter fans, these finals got it all!
Of course, all of us here are NBA fans and we couldn't be more excited about these finals. As a result, we put together a roundtable to
prove how smart make some very educated guesses as to how things might shake out. The best part? You guys get to participate too! Put your answers to the roundtable in the comments below, and whomever is the most accurate will get bragging rights as the smartest most thoughtful sexiest luckiest best prediction maker of the entire site.
1) Who wins the NBA finals and in how many games?
Chris Barnewall: Warriors in 5
Frank Berndt: Cleveland in 6
Russell Varner: Warriors in 6
Brent Martelli (welcome to the site Brent!): Golden State in 6
Tucker Warner: Dubs in 5
Nick Denning: Warriors in 7
Davis Williams: Warriors in 7
2) Why is that team going to win?
Chris: The Warriors are one of the most dominating teams in NBA history. From the very beginning of the season they've looked indestructible, and the only time they've come close to faltering is when they were down 2-1, to the Memphis Grizzlies, in the second round. They have the MVP in Steph Curry, they have a Defensive Player of The Year candidate in Draymond Green, and they have a flurry of shooters to go along with the best defense in the NBA. LeBron is good enough to win Cleveland one game, but the team that surrounds him is just not good enough to slow down the Warriors.
Frank: Although I am fully aware Golden State is a great team (historically so) and Steph Curry is a superstar... Lebron is still the best player in the series and that team usually wins (historically so).
Russell: The Warriors are playing the best basketball right now and have too many offensive threats for the Cavaliers to handle. As great as LeBron James is, he can only do so much and we have seen that great team basketball (like what the Warriors are playing) can take down the King (see: Spurs v. Heat last season).
Brent: Yes, I know they are young and don't have experience when it comes to the NBA finals, but the team is clicking on all cylinders. They made it past Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, and James Harden (all of which are on the All-NBA 1st Team) with ease. If Golden State wins, beating LeBron would round out the All-NBA 1st Team. I don't see too many weaknesses and to bet against a team that lost a total of 3 in the Bay Area all season doesn't sound right.
Tucker: The Warriors have the best defense in the NBA, and their depth is going to be too much for LeBron James and a not quite 100 percent Kyrie Irving to overcome, even though I'm sure LeBron will win a game basically on his own.
Nick: They are healthier, and the hotter team. It's hard to bet against Lebron, but the Warriors have been the best team in the NBA all season, and that didn't change in the playoffs.
Davis: Golden State is the hands down favorite but I wrestled with this for a bit. I really like the gritty team Cleveland has transformed into, but Golden State has been the best team all season long and they are the deeper team in this match-up. Cleveland is just a player or two short of making this a great comeback story. Better luck next year.
3) Who will be the best player in the series?
Chris: This has been the season of Steph Curry. He's gonna put on a show for the ages in his final act of the season.
Frank: *See answer 2, P.S. It's Lebron
Russell: LeBron James is the best player in the world right now and he will continue to show it in this series, albeit in a losing effort. The fact that he has now gone to five straight NBA Finals with two different franchises is pretty darn impressive as well.
Brent: I'm not sure who isn't thinking the best player in the finals will be either LeBron James, fifth straight NBA finals appearance, or Steph Curry, NBA MVP. I am going with Curry being the best player in this series. This season has been Curry's year. The MVP has proven to be among the best. This series will cement the finishing touches on the arrival of Curry's presence in the league for many years to come.
Tucker: LeBron— not only is he ridiculously consistent at this stage of his career, he also is going to have to do more with less to even keep his team competitive in this series.
Nick: If the Warriors are going to win, Stephen Curry is going to lead the way. He struggled at times from 3-point range this postseason, but he was the difference maker against the Rockets. If he continues that run of form, he'll be hard to stop.
Davis: If Golden State wins, Steph Curry will lead the way as he has all season long. But I think LeBron James will be the best player in the series. Will he earn the Finals MVP in a losing effort like Warriors' consultant Jerry West did all those years ago? Doubtful, but, I do think the King is going to be amazing this series.
4) Which unexpected player is most likely to break out?
Chris: I'm gonna go with a Cleveland player here and say Tristan Thompson. He's had a great playoffs, stepping in for Kevin Love, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him keep that up. His rebounding and defense has been tremendous, and now he gets to showcase that in front of the entire world.
Frank: Breakouts are usually a result of some sort of strategic wrinkle that unfolds after the second or third game. If the Warriors start going smaller, for longer periods, I could see Harrison Barnes having a "breakout" game (despite giving up 20+ to Lebron in 20 minutes on the other end).
Russell: I would say Draymond Green, but he's not necessarily an "unexpected" player, given how high he finished in the Defensive Player of the Year award. So I'm going to say Harrison Barnes, who has really seemed to come into his own lately (AKA he had that really good quarter recently against the Rockets)
Brent: Harrison Barnes. He is been developing into what all of Tar Heel nation knew he could be. With accepting his role into Kerr's scheme, Barnes will evolve throughout the series. With all eyes on the Splash Brothers, look for Barnes to get more looks. He is shooting an outstanding 76 percent near the rim.
Tucker: I'll pick one for each team— Draymond Green probably becomes a nationally-known name after this series if the Warriors win, but there's also going to be a lot of opportunities for Tristan Thompson to make his mark on this series.
Nick: He's played well already, but Festus Ezeli could step up from a rebounding standpoint and test Tristan Thompson, who has been near impossible to contain on the boards so far.
Davis: Andre Iguodala is a known commodity and I think he'll be critical in this series so I think I'll go with his second unit mate Leandro Barbosa. A member of those Phoenix teams that were the predecessor to this Warriors' style, Barbosa has had playoff duels in the past and I think his quickness and defense becomes much more appreciated in this round.
5) Which player is most likely to have a bad series?
Chris: There always seems to be one player that is just really bad for unexpected reasons. If I had to guess who that was going to be, I would probably go with Iman Shumpert. He's been lights out from 3-point range, and his perimeter defense has been as solid as always. However, it wouldn't surprise me if he gets tired legs from chasing around Klay Thompson all night, and that could really cause problems for him overall.
Frank: Tough one, but I'll go with Andrew Bogut. The Warriors going small with Draymond Green at center could spell lower minutes for Bogut. Also Timofey Mozgov is a legitimately big dude who will more than match Bogut's physicality (how did Cleveland land him again? If they win the championship they should send Denver a future first round pick, or at least a cake).
Russell: Kyrie Irving playing hurt against one of the better defensive teams in the league? Yeah, this seems like an easy choice.
Brent: I'd have to go with Matthew Dellavedova. I think his run ends here. Delly's scrappy play style will get eaten up by Thompson and then Bogut in the lane. But who knows? His hard-working, gritty style has emerged in the playoffs, just ask Al Horford.
Tucker: Matthew Dellavedova, because he's not good.
Nick: It's a toss up between Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving, both due to their respective injuries. Yes Thompson has been cleared to play, but concussions are tricky business, even after the symptoms go away. Irving on the other hand may not be 100 percent for the series.
Davis: I'm leaning towards Klay Thompson. Concussions are a strange thing and they effect everyone differently. This prediction may come up way short if Kyrie Irving is forced to guard him a decent amount, but my money is on Thompson to disappoint this series.
6) Who will have the best press conference moment?
Chris: I am blessed to see Riley Curry with her Dad as he celebrates winning his first NBA championship.
Frank: The best press conference moment will for sure be J.R. Smith. You never know what that guy is going to say. However, odds also favor Riley Curry, Lebron James' head band (and/or hairline), David Blatt awkward pauses, and Andrew Bogut making fun of Mark Jackson.
Russell: Riley Curry is too easy of a choice, but seriously, who else can it be?
Brent: I can see it now. Riley Curry holding the Larry O'Brien trophy at the podium with her dad and dropping it. It's hard to say Riley will not steal the show. I mean she is already two for two.
Tucker: The odds-on favorite is going to be Riley Curry, and that's all well and good, but eventually someone's gonna ask Andrew Bogut what he thinks of Dellavedova, and something interesting is bound to happen when some reporter asks that question.
Nick: Everyone is saying Riley Curry, and that's probably the right answer. I'd love to see what J.R. Smith does if the Cavaliers win. Would he bring out the selfie stick? He'd have to bring out the selfie stick.
Davis: If the Warriors win it's gotta be Riley Curry or Andrew Bogut. The former has already won two press conferences and the latter constantly takes shots at former coach Mark Jackson and recently compared Australia's dangerous wildlife to America's obesity problem. If the Cavs win, I'm watching everything JR Smith does.
Feel free to participate in the comments below, or if you don't want to write a lot then just leave a prediction.