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Why The Cleveland Cavaliers Will Win The 2016 NBA Finals
'Cavs in six!'
by Kirby Garlitos | Jun 1, 2016
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It's not often that the word "underdog" is used in a sentence that prominently figures someone like Lebron James. That's exactly what the King and his merry band of Cavaliers are as they prepare for an NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors. Traditionally speaking, the safer bet always goes to the favorites, which would be the Dubs. But just because it's safe, doesn't mean it's right, especially when you equate "safe" with going against arguably the best basketball player of this generation.

Do I think Cleveland is going to win the finals? Yes, I do. Am I comfortable with my pick? Yes, I am. Have I gone off the deep end with this pick? Perhaps, but I'm sticking with it because of the faith I'm putting on one man: LeBron Raymone James.

Anybody who's picking the Cavaliers to win the Finals will always fall back to LeBron in defending their pick. As great as Stephen Curry has been the past two seasons—and great feels like an understatement considering his fantastic feats this year—James remains the singlemost unguardable player in the NBA.

When he's motivated, there's really nobody in the league who can stop him. I expect a fully motivated LeBron to show up in this Finals. He's motivated to expunge the stench of his Finals record (two titles in six appearances). He's motivated to reclaim his spot as the best player in the league. And he's motivated to finally give Cleveland the championship it has long coveted. Give me a motivated LeBron James for the next two weeks, and I'm taking that to the bank.

I know what you're thinking. "LeBron can't win it by himself!" I agree. He tried to do that last year and he came within two wins of getting the job done. But he failed. No excuses. He came up short. This time, he's going to the Finals with a healthy Cavs team that have been just as lethal, if not deadlier, than the Warriors have been in the playoffs.

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That said, I don't expect this series to be a cakewalk for the Cavaliers. The Warriors present numerous matchup problems for their opponents that are easily exploitable. They can go with a small-ball lineup and dare Cleveland to match it with its own version. The problem with going small for the Cavs is, they'll likely lose the rim protection and rebounding to take advantage of Golden State's own vertically challenged lineup. Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love could work, but not if they have to switch to any one of the Dubs' perimeter players and then hurry back to the paint when the shots go up.

What they can do is beat the Warriors at its own game. The Kyrie Irving-LeBron pick-and-roll is going to be a huge problem for Golden State if they decide to switch every time that happens. That play not only opens up the floor for both Irving and James, but also gives the latter the space to drive and kick to the shooters he has at his disposal—Channing Frye, J.R. Smith, Love, and Irving.

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So now the question is this: How do Cleveland stop the Dubs? It's easier said than done and I will admit that they're going to have a tougher time doing it than the Oklahoma City Thunder did, simply because Durant and co. had the length to take full advantage of the glass. This goes back to my earlier point of Thompson and Love having the series of their careers. They need to gobble up offensive rebounds like their lives depended on them. That's more important for Double T, who gets most of his baskets on putbacks. If he can control the paint and give the Cavs extra possessions, then he can be engaged enough to make a big difference.

All that said, I think Love will be the biggest factor here for the Cavaliers. We all know what we can expect from LeBron and Kyrie. But Love's game has come and gone in the playoffs and the Cleveland can't afford to have that in the finals. If Golden State goes small, he needs to bully his way into the shaded lane to make guys like Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes honor his post game. If he can get going from that spot, double teams will likely follow and that creates even more space for James and Irving to wreak havoc with their drives to the basket.

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Oh, and Kyrie needs to play defense too. A lot of it. Let's hope he can pull that off over the course of seven games. If he can make Curry uncomfortable enough that he ends up matching his productivity on both ends of the floor, that's going to be a huge advantage for the Cavs.

One thing I know is that it's going to be a far more riveting series than the one we saw last year when James averaged close to 36 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists in six games. I don't expect the same numbers this year with a full and healthy team at his side, but if the situation calls for it, it's nice to have LeBron James on your side.

"Cavs in six!" on three!

One! Two! Three! Cavs in six!

 

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