The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers both dominated their competition en route to the NBA Finals. They swept every series except for Cleveland’s Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics. With their dominance, that means the series ended quickly resulting in several days off between games.
Before Game 1 tips off on Thursday, there will be a week off between games for Cleveland, and 9 days for Golden State. Both teams will be rested and ready to go.
The long layoff between games has people very anxious. We have been waiting for this moment since July 4th when Kevin Durant announced his intention to sign with Golden State. An NBA Finals between the Cavs and Warriors was inevitable, and it's now only 3 days away.
Before Game 1 tips off….there are three important rules to follow throughout the series. Here is rule number one:
1. Don’t overreact after Game 1 (win or lose)
This is LeBron James’ 8th career NBA Finals appearance. He is 1-6 in Game 1, with his only Game 1 victory coming against the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Another fun fact is that LeBron-led teams have only had home-court advantage twice in the Finals (2011 and 2013) which means a large majority of those Game 1's have been on the road. After the Game 1 loss, only twice has the LeBron-led team not won Game 2. Cleveland was swept in 2007, and last year as we all know Golden State dominated the first two games.
Winning Game 1 is critical for both teams….but don’t overreact if your team wins or loses. If history has taught us anything, it’s that LeBron usually doesn’t win the first game of the Finals. The NBA Finals is a marathon, and not a sprint. The championship is not won or lost in Game 1.
2. Don’t get your hopes up for a highly competitive series
I’m not predicting a sweep for either team. This series could potentially last 6 or 7 games, but don’t expect every game to be competitive. This year’s NBA Finals is being hyped up to potentially be the best ever considering all of the star-power in the series. But with all of the super-stars on both teams….expect to see some blowouts.
Other than the epic Game 7 last year, the NBA Finals was filled with blowouts. Neither Games 1 or 2 were close as the Warriors won by 15 and 33 respectively. In Game 3, after losing by 33 the previous game, the Cavs came back and won by thirty themselves 120-90. Game 4 was reasonably competitive as Cleveland only lost by 11. Game 5 was decided by 15 points and Game 6’s margin of victory was 11. Even though Game 7 was close throughout...the last few minutes were kind of ugly. The score was tied 89-89 for what seemed like forever until Kyrie Irving hit the shot of his life.
Since that moment, the Cavaliers and Warriors split their two regular season match-ups. Cleveland won the Christmas Day game while Golden State embarrassed Cleveland in January winning 126 to 91. If you can’t do math….that’s a 35 point victory.
Golden State is perhaps the most talented basketball team ever. There have been a lot of “Big 3” super-teams in NBA history, but very few can claim they had 4 NBA All-Stars, and the last 3 NBA MVP recipients on their team….all in their prime.
The Warriors swept their way to the Finals with their average margin of victory at 16 points per game. They won 10 of the 12 games by double digits, and their only test came in Game 1 against the Spurs..before Kawhi Leonard suffered an injury that would sideline him the rest of the series. Yes San Antonio wasn't 100% healthy, but that does not diminish Golden State’s dominant run through the Western Conference. It’s impressive to win every playoff game by an average of 16 points regardless of who you played.
Cleveland will be Golden State’s toughest challenge yet, but if the Warriors play their A game it’s safe to expect a couple of blowouts/non-competitive games. If the three-pointers are falling, the Warriors will be tough to contain.
3. Don’t whine and complain if your team loses
Don’t be that person. The last thing anyone wants to see is you whining on social media about your favorite professional basketball team losing. We all made fun of Ayesha Curry for tweeting after Game 6 of the Finals that the NBA is rigged. Just….don’t be that person.
For Cavalier fans, don’t make the “Warriors signed Kevin Durant,” excuse. Yes the parity in the NBA was affected with the signing. Cleveland and Golden State were the only true title contenders this season. But hey….guess what Cleveland? You’re one of those two teams! There’s only one LeBron James in the league and he plays for your team….he alone gives you a fighting chance. Don’t listen to what Vegas has to say. This Cavaliers team has enough talent to win it all.
And for Golden State fans, don’t pull an Ayesha Curry and claim the NBA is rigged if the Warriors lose. If the Cavaliers win it’s because LeBron once again proved he’s the best player in the world and Kyrie Irving got the best of Stephen Curry. It’s not because of the referees or TV ratings, or whatever excuse you want to come up with.
In conclusion….this is the “No Excuses” NBA Finals. Both teams are healthy and rested going in. In 2015-2016 Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured. Last year Draymond Green was suspended and Andrew Bogut broke his leg in Game 5. This year….everyone is healthy and ready to go. Enjoy the NBA Finals, everyone.
What other rules do fans need to follow?