As we all know the 2017 NBA finals are set to begin Thursday June 1st as the Golden State Warriors face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third time in as many years. The first go around the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in 6 games. One could argue that the Warriors might have lost if All-Star Guard and Forward Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love would have been healthy. Instead Lebron James gave everything he had with a team full of solid role players at best and took the soon to be champs to 6 games. A year later the two power house teams matched up again in the Finals. Golden State jumped all over the Cavs taking a 3-1 lead. With another championship, nearly within grasp for Golden State for the second year in a row the impossible happened. James had back-to-back 41 point games, along with Irving out playing the unanimous MVP in Steph Curry. The Cavs came back and defeated the Warriors in 7 games bringing home Cleveland’s first NBA championship in its franchise history. What the Cavs did was seemingly impossible many teams had tried, but all had failed. Teams leading 3-1 in the NBA Finals were 32-0 all time. It was “against all odds” James said in a post-game press conference. Once again the results of the Finals brought out a huge argument. The premise of the argument being if Draymond Green hadn’t been suspended for game 5 then would the Warriors have repeated as champions?
Finally, for the third year in a row we will get to see another star-studded NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland. This year teams are similar, but still have qualities that make them different from a year ago. Both teams have gotten better from a personnel stand point. The Warriors brought in Former MVP in Kevin Durant in free-agency this summer along with JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia and the Cavs brought in Deron Williams and Kyle Korver in trades in the middle of the season.
The past two finals there has been a lot of debates and questions revolving around which team was better and this team would have won if certain players weren’t suspended and injured. Well this year there are no excuses, both teams are playing their best brand of basketball and both teams are healthy. Golden State went 12-0 in the playoffs and the Cavs went 12-1. This year’s Finals will feature arguably the 1st and 2nd best players in the world, James and Durant. If either team loses there are no excuses as fans of the game, we need to hold these two future Hall of Famers accountable for their short comings. Over Durant’s 10-year career he has faced very little to no criticism when he has come up short in the playoffs. For example, in last year’s Western Conference Finals the Thunder blew a 3-1 lead against the Warriors. It was a team loss nonetheless, but from another perspective Durant did not get the job done when his team need him most. If Durant would have played anywhere near what he is capable of the Thunder would have advanced to the Finals. Durant is one of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen and will be a Hall of Famer when it is all said and done. If we are going to acknowledge him as a future NBA legend, we need to raise our expectations on him and criticize him more if he chokes in this year’s Finals. Durant better be ready to play in the Finals; Golden State didn’t bring him here to be mediocre when he is counted on most. He was brought in for big moments like this, this not a parade where he is just sitting around coasting to a championship, I expect him to go at and challenge LeBron so we can see what he is made of in the big moments.
On the other hand, LeBron James has been ridiculed and criticized much more often even for things that have little do with basketball. Regardless in this year’s Finals there should be no excuses for James if he comes up short. It seems like there is always an excuse or a reason that’s justifies LeBron’s failures. “he doesn’t have help”. “Irving and Love were injured”. Etc.… Not this year we cannot no longer tolerate excuses for James. The past few weeks many basketball analyst have been asking the question is LeBron better than Michael Jordan? How can we say that? Jordan never made excuses and never used them as scapegoats to justify his short comings. Jordan simply got it done regardless of the situation he was put in, winning 6 championships in 8 years. LeBron has a great team he has potentially two Hall of Famers on his team just like Jordan and arguably better role players as well. If James comes up short in this year’s Finals for whatever reason it’s on him. Maybe he didn’t do enough or didn’t play well enough down the stretch. Yes, the Warriors have 4 All-Stars on their team, but at the end of the day you must compete and perform at a high level to win the NBA Finals. James in this years playoffs has been sensational averaging 32.5 PPG, 7 APG, 8 RPG while shooting 56.6 percent from the field. He has a great team, the will power, and ability to get the job done, you can’t be called the greatest of all-time and not get the job done in the Finals.
This will be the best Finals match-up between these two teams over the past three years. Stars need to play like stars and be ready to play at all times throughout the series. Teams are both playing well, have the talent to compete, and are all healthy it’s now their turn to go out there compete and the best team will win. Winner takes all and this time no excuses for either team or each team’s key players.
Article Written by Tobias Bass