I think many of us don't recognise the gravity of the situation sporting climate is presently faced with. The NBA Finals are upon us, and with two games down already, we're left with 5 to go. Basketball is one of the most glamorised sports in the USA; athletes become gods on the hard floor, dominating the headlines as the playoffs roll on - but this particular finals series is shaping up to be historic (despite the lack of attendance from our home boy Steven Adams).
For those out of the loop, 'NBA Finals' refers to the last series of games played in any NBA season. This season is structured by a regular season of 82 round robin games, played around the states, alongside a post-season, which is more of a knockout type situation.
With 8 teams from each conference (East and West) progressing to the playoffs, we see an elimination tree form, as the elites of the sport go head to head in a range of best-of-7 series. This means you really get to see the best teams win in each round, with the teams that perform better in the regular season gaining the advantage of playing more games in their home stadium. The playoff tree puts forward the best of the best through to the conference finals, and then the NBA finals, to crown a champion.
This year, the Golden State Warriors toppled the Houston Rockets to be crowned champions of the Western Conference, while the Cleveland Cavaliers outplayed the number 1 seed, the Atlanta Hawks, to sweep the Eastern Conference Finals. This matchup is shaping up to be historic, for the storylines laid out in front of each team poise themselves as some of the most captivating ever.
Battle of the MVP’s
Around the globe, commentators and punters alike are hailing the battle of the MVPs. Stephen Curry of the Warriors, this year's Most Valuable Player, comes up against four-time MVP and (arguably) the world's best player, LeBron James. Now, fact of the matter is, LeBron is athletically the ultimate ballplayer in his position, but Currys skill, poise, and ready effectiveness on and off the ball threatens to dethrone the King. The pressure is on LeBron this year as many are drawing comparison between him and Michael Jordan; for LeBron to really become the best player ever, he must lead his team to a win.
Who has the better ‘team’
LeBron may be the best, but his backup team is not the full battalion it was midway through the season. With Kevin Love out for the playoffs, and Kyrie Irving, their star point guard, recently re-injuring his knee, the big three in Cleveland is short a couple of stalwarts, along with injury to Anderson Varejao. This puts the pressure on bench players Shumpert, Smith, Dellavedova, and Mozgov, to pull through, proving that you can win by depth in numbers.
However, GSW is at full strength. With a lucky season avoiding any injury, coach Steve Kerr has his full squad to employ. With the defensive effectiveness of bench players like Iguodala and Speights and Ezeli, along with attacking prowess from Livingston, Curry and his splash brother Klay Thompson have a full strength backup team ready to utilize. If the Cavs were free of injury, they would by far have the best squad in the Association.
We see 5 more games on the roster, with the series being split at 1-1 after two games in Oakland, CA. We now go to Cleveland, where the King will defend his court and hope to pull through with a 3-1 advantage, and a chance to win it. We will see how Golden State go coming into the next two games, which are crucial in order to come away with a win in any finals series.
PS: You can watch each and every game down at the Britomart Country Club, live, with the beer flowing.
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