Cavaliers and Warriors
by Josh Golden
As we approach the summer, the end of the NBA season is near, and two teams are about to battle for the championship. This year, the Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, look for the franchise’s first title in 40 years while Lebron, in his first year back in Cleveland after a four year stint in Miami, looks to deliver on his promise and deliver the first title to the city of Cleveland since 1964. Oh wait... that was in 2015. It’s 2018 now, and the league has changed drastically. Kevin Durant has gone to the Warriors, Kyrie Irving demanded a trade from the Cavaliers, landing him in Boston, and multiple teams have taken huge steps forward. However, here we stand, three years later, about to witness round four of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors. However, both teams took paths to get here that they’ve never taken before.
This season, the Warriors finished with a 58-24 record. Although second best in the league, it was seven wins less than the Houston Rockets, who ended up with home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. This was the first time in the Warriors' four-year run that they didn’t have home-court advantage leading up to the Finals, and it almost caused them to miss the championship round. The Warriors were down three games to two against the Rockets, yet on the brink of elimination, they managed to pull off two huge wins, one at home and one in Houston. However, many, including Rockets forward Eric Gordon and ESPN analyst Max Kellerman, believe the Rockets would be competing in the finals if Chris Paul hadn’t injured his hamstring in game five. The skepticism surrounding the Warriors’ finals birth along with lowest win total in their four-year run makes them vulnerable for defeat.
Although the Warriors had a shaky season by their standards, their road to the finals was a piece of cake compared to that of the Cavs. Cleveland entered the season with a huge storyline: the departure of Kyrie Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas and other assets. However, Cleveland waited the first few months of the season for Thomas to play after he injured himself in last year’s playoffs. Once healthy, he made a very minimal impact, averaging just below 15 points and five assists in 15 games in Cleveland. Just prior to the trade deadline, Cleveland completely reshaped their team, parting ways with Thomas, Dwayne Wade, and four others in exchange for Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson in a series of three trades at the deadline. Prior to the trades, Cleveland sat at 31-22, yet won 19 of the 29 games after making the trades, earning them the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite arguably the best postseason of Lebron’s career, due to a weak supporting cast, the Cavs are considered lucky to have made it this far by many people. However, here they are, just four wins away from a title.
To the disappointment of many, we’ll be seeing this finals matchup for the fourth consecutive year. However, this one is different. Both of these teams are vulnerable. Both teams faced a three to two deficit in the conference finals. Both teams are awaiting the return of key players from injury, with Kevin Love and Andre Iguodala both sidelined. Both teams’ conference titles are questioned due to injury on other teams, with Chris Paul missing time for the Rockets and both Irving and Gordon Hayward missing time for the Celtics.
America will have to sit through the matchup of the two evil empires again, but due to the emergence of new strong teams in both conferences, this could be the last time the Cavs and Warriors face off for the title.