After the Cleveland Cavaliers' nail-biting 114-111 OT win over the Atlanta Hawks today, and the Golden State Warriors' 115-80 pounding of the Houston Rockets yesterday, we now have two teams with commanding 3-0 leads in both NBA Conference Finals series.
As the kids today say it, #AlamNa.
Day by day, it looks like we're being primed for an exciting duel between the league's two most outstanding players, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. (Not to mention the long-standing fact that no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in league history.)
That is why before anybody else comes up with a Finals primer, we've already prepared one even if both series are still basically underway. Call us "assuming," but you can't really blame us; the Hawks haven't been able to stop The King, while the Rockets' supporting cast hasn't been as potent as they had been in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Unless something supernatural happens, here are the intriguing storyline about the impending Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals series!
MAN POWER: GSW STARTING FIVE VS. CAVS BENCH
Photo via bleachereport.com
Don't get us wrong; it doesn't mean the Cavaliers' starting unit doesn't stack up against the Warriors'. It's just that with the injury bug plaguing their original starters (Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao), the Cavaliers has essentially been fielding in their bench players—aside from LeBron—at tip-off. How will the Australian-Russian (Andrew Bogut-Timofey Mozgov) titan matchup pan out? Will Iman Shumpert turn out to be a prize acquisition with his tough defensive assignments, aka the Splash Bros.? Who starts, Andre Iguodala or Harrison Barnes? A lot of these questions abound.
STREAKY SHOOTOUT: J-SWISH VS. KLAY
Photos via sfgate.com and nba.com
Speaking of personnel, it's hard to ignore the production snipers Klay Thompson and JR Smith bring to their respective teams, especially when they're hot. While Klay has proven to be a steady Splash Brother—at times even looking like (gasp!) the better player of the two—JR has put his "when in doubt, shoot the ball" mentality to good use since being shipped out of the New York Knicks. Both have been breaking records this season, so it will be interesting to see whose (shooting) streak lives on...
ROOKIE CONTROL TOWERS: STEVE KERR VS. DAVID BLATT
Photos via nola.com and hoopshabit.com
While both have experienced success in the sport—one has been named Coach of the Year multiple times overseas while the other has five NBA championships under his belt—it is no secret that Blatt and Kerr are relatively newbies in the NBA head coaching position. Despite the two being criticized for "inheriting" good teams, Blatt and Kerr are nonetheless worthy of credit for steering their respective squads to their current positions.
STYLE WARS: DEFENSE VS. OFFENSE
Photo via usatoday.com
Once again, the adage "defense wins championships" will be put to the test as the Warriors try to bring the Cavaliers' high-octane offense to a screeching halt, just like what they did to their first three playoff matchups (the Pelicans, the Grizzlies, and currently, the Rockets). Just a few of the highly plausible scenarios: Draymond Green takes a crack at stopping The King; Kyrie (if healthy) tries to shake off Klay's tight on- and off-ball D; Tristan Thompson seeks to give his team extra possessions with his offensive rebounding but Bogut protects the glass like a mama kangaroo protecting her joey.
MVP BATTLE: STEPH VS. LBJ
Photos via bostonglobe.com and cleveland.com
Much has been written about these two, but it all boils down to this: this season's MVP squaring off against the best player on the planet. While having contrasting playing styles and positions, it will not be surprising to see LeBron on Steph—or the latter boxing out the former, like what he did to a much bigger player as seen here. Will the King fulfill his promise to his hometown, or will Chef Curry validate his MVP trophy with a ring? Bron's unstoppable drive or Chef Curry's hot cookin'—you choose.
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