Do LeBron James and the Cavs really have only a 10 percent (or worse) shot of beating Kevin Durant and the Warriors? That’s awfully hard to believe. (AP photo/file)

Mismatch? Please. Warriors-Cavs will be another seven-game thrill ride

SHARE Mismatch? Please. Warriors-Cavs will be another seven-game thrill ride
SHARE Mismatch? Please. Warriors-Cavs will be another seven-game thrill ride

The Celtics and Lakers of the 1960s never did it. The Celtics and Lakers of the 1980s didn’t, either.

In fact, what the defending champion Cavaliers and the best-in-the-West Warriors are about to do — meet for the championship for a third consecutive year — is a first in NBA Finals history. Given the rosters of these teams, the streak probably won’t stop at three, either.

It’s the Bucket List — 10 observations on a best-of-seven series that starts Thursday in Oakland:

1. Speaking of the Celtics and Lakers, isn’t this the most tantalizing, most glamorous, most Goliath-on-Goliath Finals since Act 3 of Bird vs. Magic in 1987? Please, let me answer for you: Yes, it is.

There’ve been teams since then — the Jordan Bulls, the Shaq-Kobe Lakers, the “dynasty” Spurs — that had all-time-great chops. Yet those teams tended not to face quite the level of opposition in the Finals that these Cavs and Warriors are dealing with. And, hey, it’s the third time in a row. That’s some kind of drama, people.

2. Golden State is 12-0 this postseason. Cleveland is 12-1. There are many who are convinced such top-heaviness is terrible for the league. No doubt, the 2017 playoffs haven’t exactly been a nonstop thrill ride. But a seven-game Finals could change a whole lot of opinions.

3. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Warriors a 93 percent chance to beat the Cavs. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site has the Warriors at 90 percent. Here’s my scientific analysis: What a bunch of lunatics. This matchup is so much closer than that.

4. Yes, I get that the Warriors likely would’ve won last year’s Finals had Draymond Green not gotten himself suspended. Yes, I realize they’ve since added Kevin Durant, arguably a top-five player in the league, to the equation. I’ll still take LeBron James and Kyrie Irving over Durant and Steph Curry all day, though, and Cavs teammate Kevin Love finally seems back to his old self. Both teams are better than they were a year ago.

5. Going into this series, my power ranking of the teams’ stars begins with James, of course, and follows with, in order, Curry, Durant, Irving, Green, Love and Klay Thompson. Why do I suddenly want to argue with somebody over a beer about this?

6. It’s a big moment for Green, who can swing the series in his team’s favor if he defends at an elite level against James. The better Green’s “D,” the harder it’ll be for James on the other end to harass Durant. It’s shaping up as the greatest challenge of James’ career.

7. It’s a bigger moment for James, who is averaging 32.5 points in the playoffs, the second-highest number of his career. Remember: He led all players — on both teams — in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in last year’s Finals. He has played the best basketball of his life against the Warriors the last two Junes.

8. Biggest question for the Warriors: Will Thompson rediscover his shooting eye after not being able to throw it in the ocean in the West finals against the Spurs? And for the Cavs: Can their greatly improved bench, led by guards Kyle Korver and Deron Williams, keep up with Golden State’s outstanding reserves?

9. I’m sure I’m not the only one rooting for ailing Warriors coach Steve Kerr to be with his team for Game 1 and the rest of the way. Come on, back, have a heart.

10. Ninety percent? I can’t get over how ridiculous that is. Watch this series go the distance, setting up a Game 7 classic. It’s the Finals we all deserve.

Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.



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