The NBA Finals have been pretty noncompetitive so far. The Golden State Warriors look like a team that won 73 regular season games and the Cleveland Cavaliers look like a team that can't figure anything out. Tonight is game 3 and a Cavs loss would all but end any hope the city of Cleveland has at an NBA championship, again.
What is your biggest takeaway from the first two games of the NBA Finals?
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9) - The Golden State Warriors are once again much more than just their stars. So far, Stephen Curry hasn't been the MVP of the series, and neither has Klay Thompson...again. It wouldn't surprise me to see Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, or possibly Draymond Green be voted MVP. That's a scary thought.
Colin Neilson (@BeefySwats) - The NBA really needs to move to a tiered playoff system like the English football league. The Warriors, Spurs and Thunder are far, far better than any other teams in the league, and it isn't particularly close. While this would likely relegate the Nuggets to the "B" league", it would ensure much healthier competition in the Finals than whatever the East barfs out every season.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash) - The Denver Nuggets have a loooooooooong way to go. Consider the gap in talent between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nuggets, and then consider that the Cavaliers are getting absolutely shellacked by the Warriors. Golden State is obviously the benefactor of the world's best player but as Ryan said, he's not even the best player so far in this series. It's not as simple as just acquiring talent in Denver. They have to acquire top tier talent from atypical places (IE not the 1st or 2nd overall pick) surround it with the right supporting talent and then find a way to generate the type of cohesiveness that made Golden State (and also San Antonio) so successful this season.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan) - The Eastern Conference is awful. This Cavaliers team played like they had cheat codes to reach the Finals, and they've looked helpless against the Warriors. Rudy Gobert said it best, "Western conference 2nd round was higher level basketball." https://twitter.com/rudygobert27/status/739658087397658625 With so little talent in the East, and an aging group of stars like LeBron, Wade and Carmelo, it's going to be years before an Eastern Conference team wins a championship.
2. What will happen in game 3 of the NBA Finals?
Blackburn - I believe it will be the closest game yet, even with the war wounds the Cavaliers are now sustaining. LeBron James isn't going to curl up into the fetal position (even if he may want to do so). I still predict a Golden State victory, but the score differential will be single digits.
Neilson - LeBron James will score 40 points, but the Cavaliers will still lose, setting up Golden State to sweep and secure back to back Finals championships. Once again, James' supporting cast (Irving, Love, Thompson, J.R. Smith) proves completely inadequate for his competition in the playoffs.
Mikash - LeBron James will have his biggest game of the playoffs, something like 42 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists...and the Cavs will lose. Kevin Love isn't likely to escape the concussion protocol before the game 3 occurs and even if he does it hasn't made much difference. I was bully on the Cavs chances of pulling the upset but we're finding out that they don't have the defense to stick with Golden State in order to play Cleveland's slow it down style and if they try to play Golden State's style they get run out of the gym.
Lewis - The world will get to see Dahntay Jones and James Jones play against Ian Clark and Festus Ezeli in the fourth quarter. The Warriors are clearly better than the Cavaliers, and are beating them without superstar contributions from Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. If they're needed, Steve Kerr can unleash them and a close game will become a laugher.
3. The Golden State Warriors are the greatest team since....?
Blackburn - The 1972 Miami Dolphins. Personally, I think they would beat Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in five or six games. The ‘72 Dolphins literally never lost to anybody, and in an NBA full of parity and competition, the Warriors stand alone. I want them to win this series in four games now; it removes any doubt that they are the best basketball team of all-time.
Neilson - The 1988-1989 San Francisco 49ers who won three playoff games by a combined 100 points. Jerry Rice and Joe Montana cemented their legends as two of the best NFL players of all time while securing back-to-back Super Bowl victories (the second on the back of a blowout 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos). Similarly, Steph Curry and the Warriors are on pace to win back-to-back Finals championships, securing Curry's status as a Hall of Fame lock early in his career.
Mikash - The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. That team lost ten regular season games and three playoff games for a total of thirteen. Currently the Warriors have lost nine regular season games and five playoff games for a total of fourteen. If, and I know it seems like a foregone conclusion, but if they win it all it's fair to say those teams are equally as good, but arguments to say the Warriors are better fall flat for me. That Bulls team, in the heyday of the big man, marched through three hall of fame centers on their way to the finals, they took on a duo in the conference finals (Shaquille O'neal and Anfernee Hardaway) every bit as good as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook...and they swept them. They had three first team all defense players, the sixth man of the year and, to this point at least, the greatest player to ever play the game.
Lewis - The 1998-99 Denver Broncos. That team had a 2,000 yard rusher in Terrell Davis, started 13-0, and rolled through the playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons may have been the best NFC team, but they had nothing against the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Hopefully Curry retires to open a bunch of car dealerships in Oakland after this season. Go out on top Steph!