By Danny Dunn
The 2017 NBA playoffs tip off with history on the line, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors look to be the first teams ever to meet in the finals three years in a row.
The Warriors won the first finals matchup 4 games to 2 over the Cavs behind finals MVP Andre Iguodala. The Cavs then took the second finals matchup 4 games to 3 with a historical comeback from down 3 games to 1 in the series, lead by finals MVP LeBron James.
The Cavaliers stumbled into the playoffs this season, they finished second in the Eastern Conference with 51 wins and 31 losses. Since the start of March the Cavs have played under .500 basketball with 10 wins and 14 losses in that span. They are still the favorites to get out of the East, because well they have LeBron James.
The Warriors finished the regular season strong, winning 15 of their final 16 games and finished first in the Western Conference with 67 wins and 15 losses. They are a heavy favorite to come out of the West, with or without all star Kevin Durant who is dealing with a lingering calf strain.
The first round of the postseason was relatively painless for the Cavs and Warriors, as they both swept their first round opponents.
The rest of the postseason will not be quite as easy for these teams, the competition will get tougher.
For the Warriors, they will play the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz series. The Warriors have not lost a game to the Clippers since Steve Kerr took over as head coach in 2015. As for the Jazz, they do not appear to have the firepower to match Golden State, the only chance they would have is to muck up the series and slow the pace of the game. But neither of these teams should last longer than six games with the Warriors.
The real competition for Warriors will come in the conference finals where they will likely play either the Houston Rockets, or the San Antonio Spurs. Each team has beat the Warriors this year, the Spurs having done so twice. For the past few postseasons Spurs v Warriors is the matchup everyone has anticipated in the conference finals, but the Spurs have not been able to make it that far.
For the Cavs, they will play the winner of the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks series. The Cavs defeated Toronto last year in the conference finals in six games. Do not expect this year’s results to be any different. As for the Bucks, it would be interesting to see Giannis Antetokounmpo [The Greek Freak] go head to head with Lebron in a series, but the Cavs should still be able to get by them.
The Cavs true competition will also come in the conference finals, where they will likely play either the Washington Wizards, or the Boston Celtics. Boston might have even been a favorite in the East if they did not get blown out by the Cavs at the end of the regular season. Washington matched up well with the Cavs in their meetings this season, the Wizards backcourt John Wall and Bradley Beal in particular played well in their meetings with the Cavs.
With the finals still about a month and a half away any number of things can happen to prevent a third meeting between the Cavaliers and Warriors, but at the moment it appears that these teams are on a collision course to square off again.