I agreed to write an article on why the Eastern Conference would win the 2018 NBA Title before there was an Eastern Conference Champion. At the time, I was confident that Celtics, Brad Stevens’ coaching, and their home court advantages would seal a victory. Now, here I am, on the day before Game One of the finals, forcing myself to talk-up the team that beat my own.
Some general history: The Cleveland Cavaliers ranked 4th in the Eastern Conference by the end of the regular season. They went 50-32, which was relatively normal as the 76ers (ranked 3rd) went 52-30 and the Pacers (ranked 5th) went 48-34. In the first round of the playoffs, the Cavs beat the Pacers in Game 7, making for a prolonged series. In the second round, the Cavs blew the Raptors out with a 4-0 blowout. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs and the Celtics fought hard until Game 7, where the Cavs won 87-79 on Sunday.
1.LeBron James: If you know anything about basketball, you know that LeBron James is an iconic figure with probably as many haters as fans. In a fun social media brigade, I asked my Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram followers to direct message me reasons why they thought that the Cavs could beat the Golden State Warriors. @Manny_Savage72 wrote “Because we have LeBron” via Twitter. On Instagram, @tylermanup wrote “LeBron James” in all caps and clarified with “give LeBron four warm bodies and you got a chance”. Oh, god. @j.l.m20 messaged me that LeBron James would average 60.
2.Underdogs:: ESPN released an incredible article which sparked debate in so many areas that I couldn’t even keep count. (Disclaimer: I have never been a fan of the Eastern versus Western Conference Finals matchup and I am and will continue to be a fan of the model where we seed the best 16 records and play the playoffs/finals that way.) This article questions if a Warriors-Cavs matchup is the biggest mismatch in modern finals history and analyzes gaps in point-differentials in past matchups. HONESTLY, as I type this, I am realizing how hard it even is for me to spit this out, as it can be viewd as a weakness, but I am flipping it as a strength.
The Cavs are the underdogs, all numbers point against their favor, and there is minimal chance of them winning, BUT I think there is something positive and refreshing in knowing that they are the underdog. Cleveland has already been using some underdog strategy by slowing down the game by playing James in the post and surrounding him with strong defenders. This is the kind of formula they used to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, replacing injured Kevin Love with Jeff Green.
Everyone loves a success story for the underdogs, right?
3.Tyronn Lue: See my article about Lue here, where I talk about Lue’s personal accreditation, which include a 2016 All Star Game head coach position, a 2016 ESPY Award for Best Coach, and 2016 ESPY for Best Team.
1.LeBron James: Though he averages 34 points a game in the playoffs, we have to keep in mind that it is literally only him. The next best scorer is Kevin Love, who is out with an injury. Kyle Korver is a low scorer with an average of 9.8 per game in the playoffs, followed by more low scorers: J.R. Smith (8.5), Jeff Green (8.3), and Tristian Thompson (6.1). Compare to Kevin Durant (29), Steph Curry (24.8), Klay Thompson (20.5), and Draymond Green (11.1).
2.This is a rematch. Remember 2017 NBA Finals, 4-1 Warriors? (This is all I can say because I am over my word count, and I talk a lot…)
As much as I am supposed to be advocating for the East, I wholeheartedly predict the Golden State Warriors will win their 6th NBA Championship.
Image via FanRag sports.