The 2015 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors is one of the most intriguing in recent memory. Storylines abound in this series and legacies are at stake. For one, the Cavaliers have never won a championship while the last time the Warriors held the trophy was 40 years ago. Both teams also have unique stories on how they reached the pinnacle of global basketball, stories that will finally end once a winner emerges. Here are some interesting storylines to follow:
1. Dream match-up
The match-up between Steph Curry and LeBron James is central to this series. James is a 4-time MVP and 2-time NBA Finals MVP and is no doubt the best player on the planet. Winning another championship brings him a step closer to Michael Jordan who is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). This is his 5th straight Finals appearance—a record that only a few players can match—and has won two titles. James is the perfect basketball player combining power, grace, court vision and IQ while being able to play multiple positions. He is at the prime of his career and unwilling to give up his title “King.”
Curry, meanwhile, is a rising star and the current 2014-2015 MVP. Curry is the best shooter of his generation and possibly, the best-of-all-time if he keeps up his ways. His story is compelling since only a few years ago, he was considered damaged goods due to persistent ankle injuries. This is his breakout year having led the Warriors to an impressive NBA-best 67-15 record in a tough Western Conference.
It will definitely be a treat to see two marquee players go at it, especially a match-up that is potentially bigger than the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson match-ups of old.
2. A Tale of Two Coaches
Steve Kerr and David Blatt meet again, this time as opposing head coaches in the NBA Finals—the first time rookie coaches have met in the Finals since 1947, the first year the league existed. Unknown to many, Blatt and Kerr are friends and the latter actually offered the former the position of assistant coach in Golden State. However, Blatt chose to take the head coaching job with the Cavs.
Both coaches have winning pedigrees. Kerr is a 5-time NBA champion and was schooled by Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Blatt is one of the most successful American coaches internationally. He earned his spurs in Israel, Russia, and Europe winning several Coach of the Year awards together with multiple titles. Both also have the same philosophies – ball movement, up-tempo play, extra passing and spacing for easier looks at the basket. Same philosophies, different pieces on the chessboard but only one will remain standing.
Behind every superstar is a great role player. While James and Curry will headline this ensemble of players, the Cavs’ Tristan Thompson and the Warriors’ Draymond Green will also have a significant impact on the outcome of the series. The two power forwards need to come up big for their respective teams to be victorious.
We have seen Green’s ascent as a bonafide NBA star during the regular season. From a bench player to a starter, Green was in the running as the league’s Most Improved Player and was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team. Green’s versatility has allowed the Warriors to be aggressive on defense all season long. Entering the Finals, Green is averaging a solid 14 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
Thompson’s story is a little bit different. He was the starting power forward before being moved to the bench with the arrival of Kevin Love. When Love went down in the first round of the playoffs, Thompson was thrust to his old role and hasn’t disappointed. He was instrumental in sweeping the Atlanta Hawks and is averaging 9 points and 10 rebounds on 59 percent shooting.
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