Cleveland, Golden State meet for third straight time in NBA Finals

Victoria Groenewold,

The 2017 NBA Finals start tonight between the Golden State Warriors and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena at 6 p.m.

This is the first time in NBA history that two teams will face one another in the finals for the third year in a row. The Warriors are entering the finals with an outstanding 12-0 playoff record by sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers, the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors are making history of their own by being the first team in the NBA to sweep the playoffs through three rounds, with a perfect 12-0 record entering the finals.The Cleveland Cavaliers were not far off with a 12-1 record after sweeping the Indiana Pacers, the Toronto Raptors and losing only one game to the Boston Celtics in game 3.

These two teams have established quite a rivalry over the last two finals. It started in 2015 when the Warriors beat the Cavaliers 4-2 in a battle of six games, which gave the Warriors their first NBA championship in 40 years. In the 2016 NBA Finals, Golden State had a 3-1 lead over Cleveland but became the first team in NBA history to blow that lead when the Cavs came back to win their first championship.

Injuries played a role over the last two finals. In the 2015 NBA Finals, Cleveland’s power forward Kevin Love was injured due to a shoulder injury; point guard Kyrie Irving was out due to a fractured knee. Last year’s finals, Golden State’s power forward Draymond Green got suspended in game 5, point guard Stephen Curry was hurt with a knee injury when he slipped and fell on a wet floor in Houston and former Warriors center, Andrew Bogut, was out with a knee injury.

This year, everyone is healthy, therefore no excuses for either team. This Finals is going to be a series full of powerhouse players with Cleveland’s big three; small forward LeBron James scoring an average of 25.5 points per game against Golden State, Irving with 21 points and Love at 11.5. Golden State’s stacks up big with shooting guard Klay Thompson having 25 points per game against Cleveland, small forward Kevin Durant with 28.5, point guard Curry at 17.5 and power forward Green with 13.5 points.

The coaching staff is also something to take a look at in this finals matchup. Mike Brown has taken over coaching the Warriors while head coach Steve Kerr has taken a leave of absence during the playoffs to heal from a lingering spinal leakage issue. However, make no mistake, Coach Kerr is constantly involved in the background working with Brown and others even though he cannot physically be on the sidelines. In addition, Mike Brown is coaching against his former team from which he was fired twice. Brown coached Cleveland from 2005-2010 and 2013-2014.  

Although Brown doesn’t coach for them anymore, he’s still profiting money off of the Cavaliers. According to Business Insider, only one season was complete on a five-year contract when he was fired. The contract was worth $20 million where the first four years were guaranteed and the last year somewhat guaranteed.

“It’s one of those things, especially in the NBA, it’s like the Lion King, it’s just the circle of life,” Brown told reporters last week in Oakland following a practice. “Everything just kinda keeps getting back to where it once was. Just gotta take it in stride and whatever happens, happens.” Tyronn Lue, the head coach for the Cavaliers, could make history by being the first coach to win two championships in his first two seasons as head coach.

The bottom line is that this is going to be fascinating finals that everyone will be watching and talking about over the next two weeks. Both teams are seeking to get their second NBA championship in the last three years with the Cavs looking to repeat. The Warriors are at a ⅔ favor of winning according to Vegas insider based off of their record and having home court advantage at the Oracle Arena, better known as ‘Roaracle’, because of how loud the fans get during home games.