After a layoff of what has seemingly felt like an entire month, the NBA Finals will tip off on Thursday night from Oracle Arena in Oakland. For the third consecutive year, we will be treated to the Golden State Warriors facing off with their super-team counterpart, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If you want a fascinating visual preview, check out the work done by these Taiwanese animators:
Many, including myself, expect an incredible series out of these two basketball clubs — it better be. After all, us loyal sportsball-watching Americans have suffered through nearly a month-and-a-half’s worth of garbage playoff series.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t necessarily the NBA’s fault that there wasn’t much parity this postseason. But when your Western Conference champ sweeps the No. 2 seed and your Eastern Conference champ wins in five games over the No. 1 seed, including a 44-point thrashing one the ROAD, don’t expect non-hardcore fans of the Association to not feel lackadaisical heading into your biggest event on the calendar. You need excitement, gripping story-lines, star power and most of all: some close games.
If any series is going to offer that up on a silver platter, it should (and needs to) be Cavs-Warriors.
The best rivalry the NBA has seen since Showtime Lakers vs. Larry Bird’s Celtics facing off for the ‘ship again should be something to get extremely excited over, which goes without question. All the story-lines to pick from are going to be present:
- LeBron’s seventh straight Finals appearance as he tries to further stake his claim as the GOAT
- The Warriors try to avenge blowing a 3-1 lead in last year’s Finals, thus making their meltdown one of the longest-running sports memes (It’s up there with the likes of Crying Jordan)
- Kevin Durant’s pursuit of his first NBA title
- Draymond Green’s pursuit of trying to avoid suspension for kicking another man in the crotch
- The Warriors’ unstoppable offense vs. the Cavs’ suffocating defense
- Which bandwagon fanbase will become larger for the rest of the summer a.k.a. “How many Curry or LeBron jerseys can you spot on a given day at West Town Mall in Knoxville?”
- Last but not least, we’re awaiting what memes will result from this series for everyone to run into the ground and for Facebook to catch onto weeks after their popular stages.
Star power? Yeah, there’s a little bit — Just six (arguably seven) of the NBA’s best 15 players start in the Finals. Even though some are questioning if the other teams in the NBA sill matter, it’s no debate that the Warriors and Cavs matter more than any other teams in the league.
And that leaves us with, again, the biggest issue with this year’s postseason thus far: a lack of close games.
Sure, we had some drama in the Clippers-Jazz series, a good seven-game Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Celtics and Wizards and the Spurs playing a few games that came down the wire. Heck, even the mighty Cavs had each game in their opening round sweep of the Pacers decided by single-digits and dropped Game 3 against the Celtics in the East Finals to a clutch shot from Avery Bradley with 0.01 seconds left.
But besides that, this postseason has just felt like teams have taken turns blowing each other out of the water. That must change with the Finals or this postseason will be at risk at becoming possibly the worst in modern NBA history.
However, I do have faith that both of these teams are going to put on a great show for six or seven games. Both have looked unstoppable against weaker competition, but when they are at full-strength, the ingredients for a fantastic Finals showing are there. They gave us a preview of what we can expect back on Christmas (ignore Golden State’s 35-point victory when they met in January), and if each game in this series can replicate that one, then we will finally have found the cure for these forgettable playoffs.