The 2016 NBA Finals kick off tonight as the Golden State Warriors are set to square off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals. As expected, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the series. It will be a star-studded fest on and off the court as basketball fans prepare for one of the most epic NBA Finals in recent memory.
With that said, let’s take a look at five bold predictions for these Finals.
The Series Will Not Go Seven Games
Many basketball experts are picking the NBA Finals to go seven games based off of last year’s series going six despite the Cavs’ injuries and LeBron James’ one-man show. With that said, I don’t believe the Finals will reach a seventh game in Oakland. Whichever team wins the series will take it in six games or less, but I am sure we won’t see a Game 7. My apologies to the conspiracy theorists who believe that the playoff games are fixed.
Klay Thompson Will Outshoot Steph Curry
If you haven’t noticed, Klay Thompson can really shoot the ball. No, I mean, like he can REALLY SHOOT the ball. At times, the other half of the Splash Brothers is overlooked due to his counterpart shooting from all areas of Oracle Arena — even the tunnel. As of late, Thompson has been shooting as if he discovered the dusty Nikes that Calvin Cambridge found in the early 2000s movie, “Like Mike.”
In the last three games of the Western Conference Finals, Thompson made 19 three-pointers, and he made 30 for the entire series. While Steph Curry made an astonishing 32, Thompson wasn’t too far behind. The sharpshooting All-Star will continue to be a marksman in these Finals. Outshooting Curry is damn near impossible, but if anyone can do it, Klay is the guy.
Kyrie Irving Will Win Finals MVP
In 1988, James Worthy edged out Magic Johnson for the Finals MVP. In 2015, Andre Iguodala won the trophy over Curry, who was the regular-season MVP. Don’t be shocked if once again the superstar does not win the Finals MVP. If the Cavs take the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Cleveland, Kyrie Irving will win the award named for Celtics legend Bill Russell.
Irving, who has an All-Star Game MVP and a FIBA World Cup MVP on his shelf, will look to add another MVP to his résumé. It’s likely that Irving will be guarded by both Thompson and Curry. Despite going against the underrated defensive tandem, Irving will have a coming-out party in which he morphs into “Uncle Drew.” Kyrie is capable of averaging over 25 points while dishing out about six assists, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he takes home the MVP trophy.
Harrison Barnes Will Remain On The Bench
Harrison Barnes took a demotion after losing his starting spot at the end of the Western Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Iguodala took his starting spot in attempt to slow down Kevin Durant. As the Warriors’ defensive specialist did an admirable job on KD, it’s likely he will remain in the starting lineup as the matchup with LeBron James will be just as challenging.
Steve Kerr made the switch in Game 4 of the 2015 Finals to insert Iggy into the starting lineup, and it paid dividends. This year, Kerr will get a head start on things with keeping Iggy on LeBron early and often while Barnes takes on the role of sixth man.
LeBron Will Play Center
LeBron has been vocal about not wanting to bang with the big guys if he doesn’t have to, but in this series, LeBron playing at center could be deciding factor. When the Warriors go to their feared death lineup of Curry-Thompson-Barnes-Iguodala-Draymond Green, the Cavs could make an attempt to infuse a new look by inserting James at the pivot to match up against Green. The King will not solely put a halt to the success of Golden State’s lineup, but he could disrupt the group that has terrorized the NBA over the past two seasons. A group of Irving-Iman Shumpert-J.R. Smith-Richard Jefferson-James may not match the offensive firepower of the Warriors, but it is a scrappy group that has the ability to hit the three-point shot as well as play solid defense.
Though James would play center, he can continue to play in his normal role on offense with a bit more action in the post. Here, Cleveland would look to switch everything on defense when the Warriors run their unstoppable pick and roll sets. It sounds crazy, but it may work to have LeBron at the 5 when Golden State goes to the death lineup. Having an elite defender like James switching on the pick and roll instead of inept defenders such as Channing Frye, Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson may bode well for Cleveland.
We shall see what happens — maybe coach Tyronn Lue can give me a call for some insight.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp