By: Alec Garcia (@alecbruins)
It was always inevitable. This marks the first time in any major American sport that the same two teams have played in a championship series four years in a row. We all knew this would be the match-up since the start of the season barring any major injuries but it's still difficult to accept. NBA fans outside of Cleveland and the Bay Area are collectively groaning. Nobody wanted this, but this is and has been our reality as NBA fans.
Last season we got the quintessential rubber-match after these teams split the previous two NBA Finals. This is the least appealing series we've seen between these teams thus far. The Cavaliers are a gargantuan under dog. Vegas lists the Warriors at -1000 to win the series, which is the most lopsided Finals odds since 2001. In previous match-ups Vegas has listed the Warriors as -220 in 2015, -220 in 2016 and -300 in 2017.
In the regular season Cleveland looked hardly like a team who would even sniff an NBA Finals. They finished 4th in the Eastern Conference at 50-32 and for better or worse completely blew up their roster at the trade deadline. They've won two game 7's to reach this point so it's been far from an easy road to the Finals. It took two LeBron James Super Saiyan performances in those games to advance. In game 7 vs Indy, James had 45 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. In game 7 vs Boston, he had 35 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists. Unfortunately for LeBron it's going to take four more performances like that to even have a chance at beating the Warriors.
The Warriors coasted through the regular season and finished seven games behind the Houston Rockets as the number two seed. The only real challenge they faced during the season was the injury to Steph Curry which held him out for 31 games in the regular season and 6 in the postseason. The Houston Rockets had the Warriors on the brink of elimination. They trailed Houston 3-2 in the Western Conference finals before Chris Paul went down with an injury to his hamstring. With the injury to Paul any glimmer of hope the Rockets or NBA fans may have had vanished. The Warriors found themselves down double digits in both elimination games but the onslaught by Golden State in the second half and the Rockets choosing to die by the 3 gave us the result we all expected.
It's understandable to be completely bored with this match-up. I am. Will I still watch? Yes, of course. It would have been nice to see some fresh blood in the NBA Finals. I just don't see how this is at all a competitive series, the Warriors are just decidedly better than Cavs. This series is only aesthetically pleasing for one reason and that's the star power. We get the best player of this era in LeBron James pit up against the best team of this era in the Warriors. LeBron faces a monumental task in trying to defeat a team with four NBA All-Stars. But if there's one thing that tends to draw sports fans it's the possibility of a miracle. Regardless of the outcome, we will surely see a league wide shake up as soon as the finals are over. The product of this off-season could very well bring an end to this Cavs-Warriors saga once and for all.