Before we get into this year’s highly anticipated NBA Finals. I’d like to give a shout out to the Boston Celtics and San Antonio for having successful seasons. Although I think the Celtics didn’t work hard enough to get Demarcus Cousins or Jimmy Butler on the team this year, I’m not so sure that would have been worth two more wins in this year’s conference finals. I am curious if they are going to run it back with the addition of another young lottery pick are trade their number one pick for some vet pieces to help Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say they overachieved this year with their current roster. Whatever Danny Ainge decides to do this off-season, it will be tough to mess this off-season up for the Celtics. They have a lot of good options.
The Spurs will have a challenging off-season themselves, as there are a few questions that must be answered for them to sustain their run of excellence for the next few seasons. Though it seems like Dejounte Murray is poised to be the point guard of the future, I think it would behoove the Spurs to sign a veteran to serve as a bridge for Murray era. There are a number of free agent point guards the Spurs could sign on the cheap who could help mentor the young prodigy as he grows into his role as a floor leader. I personally am rooting for a George Hill/Gregg Popovich reunion next season.
Jonathan Simmons may have played his last game in a Spurs uniform, as his payday is right down the road waiting for him once the free agency period starts. He is a restricted free agent, but if a team offers him a ton of money to go play for them, San Antonio might let him walk. This would be unfortunate because I’ve been one of Juice Man’s biggest fans and I’d love to see him back on the team. For what’s out there at the wing position, he could turn out to be a good investment.
I would be surprised if Patty Mills plays for the team next year. He is an unrestricted free agent and some marginal team is probably going to be foolish enough to drop some major dough on a player who isn’t good enough to be a starting point guard for a contending team. Kawhi’s injury in Game 1 last round turned the conference finals into a pre season tryouts. Spurs players were just playing for their jobs after it was clear they were not going to advance.
Looking down the road, the Spurs are going to need some young front court players as Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are clearly on the wrong side of their careers and can’t be depended on to carry a team if Leonard was unavailable for some reason. Kyle Anderson hasn’t improved all that much since he first got into the league three years ago, and it may be time to start looking for Danny Green’s eventual replacement. Green does some things well (like stopping 3-on-1 fast breaks) and some things not so well (like dribbling). He is like that boyfriend some women have that does just enough to get dumped. She doesn’t break up with him, but she thinks about it seriously at least once every 3 months. 4 years later, both parties are wondering where this thing is going.
Outside of Kawhi and Murray, there are a lot of questions to be answered this off-season. A lot of critics think this is beginning of the end of the Spurs dynasty, but I think this is just a transition period. Either way, this off season will be the critical point we look back on five years from now when accessing the prime of Kawhi Leonard’s career.
You must excuse me if I seem bored with the Cavs-Warriors threematch, but at this point it seems pretty anti-climatic. Besides the first 30 minutes of game 1 of Spurs-Warriors, there has been little doubt who would be in the NBA Finals. Neither team was tested on their way to the final round, and there was a part of me that was disappointed that Cleveland dropped a game against Boston. It would have been cool to see both teams head into the Finals 12-0. Alas, this is the best the 2017 season could give to us fans.
3 Keys to the series:
Draymond Green/ Andre Iguodala vs. Lebron
Lebron is going to get his no matter what, but Green and Iggy are going to have to figure out a way to slow him down, make him work for points, and not get into foul trouble. Refs tend to swallow their whistles when Lebron creates contact by dipping his shoulders into people’s chest and using his off-hand to push into guys. If there is a foul called, it’s usually on the defensive player somehow. Rasheed Wallace put it best when he said, “These guys (Kobe, Shaq, Lebron) are supposed to be the best right? So why do they need more help if they are so good?” That is exactly why I @bucks with Sheed even if he is fibbing about making up the phrase “Ball Don’t Lie”.
We haven’t seen this kind of star power on both Finals teams since the 2013 and 2014 Spurs-Heat matchups, and before that, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in the 80’s. However, anyone who knows anything about NBA basketball knows that its the how role players play that will determine who wins these playoff games.
It isn’t crazy to expect big numbers from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Steph Curry, but you never know what you are going to get from Kevin Love and Klay Thompson on the offensive end (although both can easily put up 40 points in the blink of the eye). The difference between the two players is that Love is an average defender at best, while Thompson is the best defensive 2 guard in the league. To think that both players are afterthoughts shows you how good both teams are.
Look for the Kardashian curse to rear its ugly head this series as Tristan Thompson should have a big series against this thin front court of Golden State–but he won’t. I can’t ever quantify these suspicions with anything but intuition, but wasn’t I right about James Harden swoon last year because he was dating Khloe? I’m just saying.
Golden State has the better bench of the two teams with guys like Javale McGee, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala all making important contributions with the second unit. Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw can be counted on to steal some minutes at the guard spots. Don’t forget that Mike Brown (?) can always count on David West or Matt Barnes to provide some toughness whenever that is needed.
The Cavaliers have a lot of washed dudes coming off the bench, like old ass Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson, and Derrick Williams.
For all the talk about their offense, Warriors had one of the best defenses in the NBA this year. The Cavaliers? Not so much. There was even a time period where their defensive rating was 30th in the league. They haven’t exactly faced any offensive juggernauts this post season, so people have been tricked into thinking that they “flipped that switch.”
The Warriors are phenomenal at finding the “mouse in the house” and exposing it again and again. Outside of Tristan Thompson, Lebron James, and sometimes Iman Shumpert, is there anyone on that Cleveland roster that will scare the Warriors? J.R. Smith can bring it on occasion, but he can just as easily space out at anytime. The rest of the team is compiled of average defenders. The Spurs were a top 5 team in defense and you saw what happened to them, and before you say “but Kawhi Leonard was hurt” please realize that it would have taken EVERYTHING to go right for the Spurs to even have a chance at winning last round.
People tend to think this has the makings of a classic, but I don’t see it. Star power aside for Cleveland, they are ill-equipped to deal with one of the best offenses in NBA history. Warriors in five, and the only reason I’m not predicting a sweep is out of respect to Lebron. I may sound as crazy as I did when I said the Spurs would beat Golden State last round, but you saw what happened that first 30 minutes before Kawhi got hurt (like what I did right there?). There could have been a number of reasons why San Antonio was dominating before that take down by Zaza, but before that infamous play, I wasn’t looking so crazy now was I? If both teams remain healthy the entire series, the Warriors will clinch it five games and it may not even be that close. And oh yeah, Draymond Green is going to win the Finals MVP, just like I predicted in the season preview.
Have a good week.
Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.