Golden State Warriors Will Beat The Cavs To Become Champions Again

May 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 115-104. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 115-104. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors are set to square off with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the rubber match of their three straight Finals appearances together — and the Dubs will win their second title in three years.

There was only one team last season that could take down the Golden State Warriors, the unstoppable three-headed monster that blistered its way to 73 wins and was on the verge of capturing a second straight NBA championship.

No, it wasn’t the Cavs. And no, LeBron James wasn’t some mythical hero wielding a rapier in one hand and the head of Medusa in the other.

That playoff switch so often associated with Cleveland was actually flipped by the Warriors in last year’s Finals, initiating a self-destruct sequence that began in the final minutes of Game Four and ended with a mushroom cloud at Oracle seven days later.

The aftereffects are still being felt to this day.

After dominating three of the first four games in the series and putting themselves in a perfect position to vanquish their rivals and complete what had been a dream season, the Warriors just couldn’t get out of their own way.

In his postgame press conference following Game Seven, Steve Kerr called the Cavs the better team. It was the classy thing to say. It was also wrong, and the Warriors will spend the next week or so proving why.

The third movie of a trilogy is always the worst: Godfather III. Matrix Revolutions. Little Fockers. Cavs vs. Warriors III will be no exception. Fans hoping for another seven-game epic will be devastated when the season ends early — though their disappointment will be somewhat mitigated after watching two or three blowout games.

Simply put, the Warriors do a lot of things better than the Cavs. Things like passing, shooting, setting screens, getting back in transition, blocking shots, guarding the perimeter, and playing basketball.

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To be sure, there are a few things that the Cavs do better: trolling, fouling with impunity, getting opposing players suspended, fleecing the refs, and being aggravating. Unfortunately for Cleveland, their shameful win-at-all-costs strategy won’t be nearly as effective since Draymond Green has accumulated zero flagrant fouls in the playoffs and Stephen Curry’s superpowers are currently operating at 100 percent.

The Warriors also have a superior bench to go with their star-studded starting five, and hold an advantage against the Cavs at every position except starting center.

Cleveland has had better success at scoring points in the playoffs, this is undeniably true. But LeBron James’ rampage against Eastern Conference teams will come to a cruel and humbling end against the Warriors’ armor-plated defense.

After spinning balls and turning his back on scrubs like Kelly Olynyk, the King will have to spend four quarters being guarded by either Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala or Draymond Green. If he manages to get past them he’ll have to contend with another sentry in JaVale McGee, who recently retired from his career on Shaqtin a Fool to become the newest member of Golden State’s elite SWAT unit.

In the first half of last year’s NBA Finals, LeBron averaged fewer than 25 points a game against a fully fortified Warriors defense. It took a suspension to the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, and injuries to All-Defensive center Andrew Bogut and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala for James to have any kind of an impact on the series.

With none of those things likely to happen again, the Cavs will need to do a lot more than letting LeBron and Kyrie Irving trade shots on every offensive possession.

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They won’t get it from Kevin Love, whose cakewalk through the playoffs is over with Draymond Green looming like a dark omen. Don’t expect fading role-players like Deron Williams, Kyle Korver or Channing Frye to do much. Standing around while waiting for a shot isn’t an effective strategy out west.

In short, Cleveland’s one-dimensional and predictable offense won’t work against an elite defensive team, especially one so fast and aggressive that it tries to score on every pass.

It’s even worse on the other end.

The Cavs’ 22nd-ranked defense isn’t an illusion. Whether in transition, half-court sets, or anywhere on a basketball court, they’re just bad at stopping other teams from scoring. While they have held their opponents to lower point totals in the postseason, more of that is because of players missing wide open shots than any improvement on the defensive end.

This time it won’t be Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley getting open looks. Instead it’ll be Klay Thompson. Or Steph Curry. Or Kevin Durant. Or their best three-point shooter in the playoffs so far, Draymond Green.

The Warriors’ offense is simply unstoppable, and the addition of KD will be a nightmare for the Cavs in every facet of the game.

Golden State Warriors
May 16, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA;  Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Assigned to guard Harrison Barnes in last year’s Finals, LeBron was able to play the role of free safety on defense. As each of Barnes’ uncontested jumpers danced around on the rim, the Cavs swarmed everyone else on the floor, allowing LeBron to provide extra coverage on the good players cutting their way to the basket or trying to get free for an open jumper.

Aside from getting three bye weeks to start the postseason, Barnes’ ineffectiveness was the main reason why LeBron’s fuel gauge remained above full during the final minutes of Game Seven.

Now, James will have to guard Kevin Durant, and realize very quickly that the fun times are over.

That means it’ll be up to Kyrie Irving to single-handedly tear down the Warriors. It’s amazing what one big shot can do. Twitter and the sports media suddenly think Kyrie is better than the reigning two-time MVP. Apparently, the main reason for this is ball-handling. Yes, Irving is a greater ball handler than Curry.

Really, it’s not like Steph has anything else going for him — except being a better passer, marksman, rebounder, screen-setter, and frequently drawing crowds everywhere he goes.

To everyone on the Kyrie bandwagon: Curry’s better. And the world is round.

Final verdict: Even when everything was going wrong for the Warriors in the final three games of 2016, they still would have won the championship had Steve Kerr not played Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao in Game Seven. Lessons have been learned. The same team returns healthy with more talent, more depth, and more poise.

LeBron and the Cavs talked a lot after winning a championship, and that’s understandable. Good things don’t happen in Cleveland, and you can add this year’s Finals to the list.

Along with everything else.

Warriors in five.