WHO WILL BE THE NBA CHAMPIONS FOR 2017?

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The road to the 2016-2017 NBA finals has been a very interesting, action packed and sometimes surprising affair so far. Each team played 82 games in the regular season and then there were the playoffs where the “men separated themselves from the boys”. Now we only have 2 teams standing - The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. These two teams have prevailed in contrasting ways. The Golden State Warriors was the model of consistency, they had a record of 67-15 in the regular season and an NBA record 12-0 in the playoffs on their way to the finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers, on the other hand, was not as consistent as they would have wanted to be in the regular season and the pundits were at one point questioning whether they would make it to the finals to defend their title. They managed a record of 51-31 and was second to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference. They, however, upped their game in the playoffs and romped to a 12-1 record. They are now in the finals and seemingly ready to defend their title.

Players to Watch

The teams have some exceptional players that can all change the course of a game in minutes and work in tandem to dominate games. For the Warriors; Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson are “the formidable three”! They have performed consistently for the Warriors throughout the regular season and the playoffs and have excellent chemistry and understanding. Curry is the leader of the team and he averaged 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game in the regular season and 28.6, points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in the playoffs. He is a very versatile player and can score from anywhere on the field. He is currently the best shooter in the game.

Kevin Durant joined the Warriors at the start of the season and has fit in perfectly, and he had an immediate positive impact on the team. He averaged 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in the regular season and 25.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the playoffs. He is a big game player and one of the best shooters in the league. Klay Thompson completes the “formidable three”; he averaged 22.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in the regular season and 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the playoffs. He has not been at his best in the playoffs so far but is an excellent player who should never be discounted.

The Cavaliers also have their “fantastic three”: Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. What can we say about Lebron James? This guy has proven himself over a long period of time and continues to delight fans. He averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists in the league and 32.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the playoffs. He is now the leading scorer in NBA playoff history. We should expect an epic display from Lebron James in the upcoming finals. Kyrie Irving has had an excellent season and is in top form heading into the finals. He averaged 25.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists, in the regular season and 24.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists in the playoffs. Kevin Love is also one of the big players for the Cavaliers, he averaged 19 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in the regular season and 17.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in the playoffs. He is also a very good defensive player.

Who will win?

The big three of both teams are evenly matched in terms of statistics this season, however, the Warriors have the more rounded team and have dominated the league in the past three years- They are the team with the best record over three years in NBA history. One could say that they will win the championship based on these factors and they probably will win. However, it would be foolhardy to discount the chances of the Cavaliers, who have Lebron James in their line-up. James is probably the best player in NBA playoff history and he has an excellent cast of supporting players. The legacy of James is in the balance and he will play every game like his life depends on it. He currently has three championships from seven final appearances and would want to make this is 4th from 8 attempts. The Warriors, however, have the depth and talent and will be severely criticized if they fail to translate this into a championship. They will also want to avenge the disappointing defeat from last year. This year’s final is the most anticipated in a long time and we should expect an epic battle between two teams on the cusp of creating history. May the best team win!