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TGH NBA Finals preview and predictions

NBA Finals

It all comes down to this. The 2018 NBA Finals are finally upon us.

After a season filled with great storylines, a revamped All-Star Game and way, way too many injuries, the 2018 season will culminate in the exact same matchup fans have grown accustomed to over the last three years.

Yet again, LeBron James owns the East. Yet again, the Warriors four All-Stars proved too much for the West. The somewhat tumultuous road both teams had to traverse to get to this point is essentially irrelevant because they both reached the peak for a fourth straight year. This will be the first time in NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL history that two teams will meet in a final for the fourth time in a row.

The Golden State Warriors can solidify the dynasty moniker by winning a title for the third time in four years. The Cleveland Cavaliers can buck all expectations and forever alter how history views this period of NBA history by tying the Finals series at 2-2.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2018 NBA Finals before they start on Thursday, including The Game Haus’ staff’s predictions.

NBA Finals Preview

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors and their four All-Stars did it again. Unsurprising, really, even if they had to deal with a little more adversity in 2018.

The Houston Rockets took this vaunted Golden State team to seven games. Their first series to go the distance since they lost in the 2016 NBA Finals. It was a fun series, but as Game 7 approached, it was hard to see the series ending any other way. Especially since the Warriors blew out the Rockets by 29 points in Game 6, after having a 17-point lead in the first half.

Houston was not shy about telling the world that their roster was put together to dethrone the champions. It seems as if they had the best shot of any other team in the playoffs. With their three-point shooting, star power and fantastic switch defense, they were one fantastic Warriors’ third quarter away from achieving their goal.

But Steph Curry came alive, Kevin Durant avoided iso play and Klay Thompson showed his ability to be a first scoring option. When this lineup gets hot, what is a team supposed to do other than just hope that it stops?

The Warriors are averaging 109.1 points per game, putting in 10.8 3-pointers at a 35 percent clip. They are maximizing their opportunities by collecting 46.2 rebounds (second only to Philadelphia, who did not play in the Conference Finals). Golden State steals the ball 8.2 times per game, further stretching their possession total.

NBA Finals
The Warriors four All-Stars have overpowered the West once again. (Photo by Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

Kevin Durant is scoring 29 points per game, Stephen Curry has added 24.8 and Klay Thompson, a sometimes-forgotten man in this insane offense, has managed 20.5 even so. That is already 74.3 points, without mentioning Draymond Green and a pretty good bench.

They are also holding teams to 100.3 points per game, which is more impressive than it sounds. They have played some offensive juggernauts throughout the Western Conference playoffs, most notably the one-seeded Rockets, who put on offensive clinics throughout the 2017-2018 playoffs.

The only way Golden State loses is if LeBron keeps being a superhuman basketball android (which he will), and his teammates play to their fullest potential every minute they are on the floor. Even in that hypothetical scenario, the Cavaliers would probably have to win in seven games.

There is nothing left to say about this team that has not already been said. They are amazing. Inarguably in contention for one of the best NBA squads of all time. Steve Kerr’s squad just needs to keep doing what they do and they will cruise to another championship. Keep shooting, keep switching, keep playing team defense and keep the lineups fresh.

Another year, another finals, another chance to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy to Oakland. The only thing the Warriors should be stressed about is upcoming contract decisions. Until then, they should rest easy and play fast.

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron’s reign over the Eastern Conference continues for an eighth straight year. He is the only non-Celtic to do so, during their eight straight finals appearances that garnered 11 titles in 13 years.

Similar to Golden State, it is hard to say anything that has not already been said about his incredible postseason. It is among the greatest playoff runs of all time, and it willed one of his weakest supporting casts ever to an NBA Finals berth.

James is averaging 41.3 minutes, 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists. He has had two incredible buzzer-beaters, seven 40-plus point performances and three triple-doubles. NBA fans know that all of that will not mean much to him unless it comes with a ring, but they can appreciate it even if he cannot.

The closest Cavalier to James in terms of scoring is Kevin Love, at 13.9 points per game. Love is currently in the NBA’s concussion protocol, and his return date is still unknown. The other Cavaliers have been little more than set dressing during these playoffs. That is evidenced by not only the point totals, but the sheer amount of time LeBron has the ball in his hands.

NBA Finals
LeBron celebrates after one of his two playoff buzzer beaters. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

When the NBA Finals begin, keep track of how many times James passes the ball to a teammate, only to get it right back. It is hard to tell whether this is part of the plays that they run, or if the other Cavs just simply do not want the ball. Either way, it appears James is option one through five.

The only way the Cavs steal a game here is if LeBron gets a triple-double, and gets a 20-point performance from Love, Korver or Green, along with at least two more double-digit scoring games from a miscellaneous Cavalier. Their path to victory is razor thin. No mistakes can be made against this ridiculous Warriors team, and their defense will have to be perfect. Even then, they have to pray that Steph and Klay do not hit their patented “How the hell did they do that?” 3-pointers.

Again, if they manage to come out with a win in the 2018 NBA Finals, they will successfully alter the way this Golden State team is seen in the annals of history. Imagine, with this roster, if the Warriors lose to one of LeBron’s weakest teams ever. The greatness of Golden State will forever be in question, as that would result in a 2-2 split over these four years.

It is very probable this incredible postseason performance will result in another silver medal for James, though. But credit the Cavaliers for never giving up, getting through a tougher-than-usual East and being a part of history for a fourth-straight matchup against Golden State.

Staff Predictions

Ben Hendricks, Lead NBA writer/Podcaster

The contrarian in me wants to pick the Cavs. But I would much rather be right than different just for the sake of it.

The games will seem close in the first half until Golden State stops sleepwalking and decides to play basketball. LeBron will continue this historic tear and rack up more 40-point games and more triple-doubles. Those will be enough to pick up the Cavaliers at least one win, maybe even two, depending on Kevin Love’s health and production.

But, alas, the Warriors will hoist the trophy for the third time in four years. Their fourth best player is better than the Cavs’ second best player. They can score at will, they can defend and they just knocked out a team in the Western Conference Finals that was literally built to beat them.

LeBron James, however, will win Finals MVP. His postseason has been nothing short of prolific, and there is no way on Earth he is going to slow down in the Finals. Golden State will not shut him down, because they are smart enough to know that they can’t. So he’ll put up massive games, and the voters will award him MVP for putting this roster on his shoulders and willing them to this point.

Champion: Warriors in 5

Finals MVP: LeBron James

Robert Hanes, President

Well, here we are, season four of Cavs and Warriors. LeBron willed his team to this point and Golden State survived a scare from the Rockets. These games will be close to start as it seems the Warriors turn it on in the second half, and LeBron will be at least rested and able to do his thing in the first half of these games. In the end, the Warriors just have so much more talent than the Cavs. LeBron will most likely continue to will this team to a win or two in this series. But the Warriors are battle-hardened after an insane Western Conference playoffs this year and will take the series 4-2.

Champion: Warriors in 6

Finals MVP: Klay Thompson

Joe DiTullio, Vice President/Sports Editor

LeBron is without a doubt the best player of his generation, but asking him to beat this Warriors team is a bit too much given his current situation in Cleveland. I’ll give the Cavs a game with how good James is and has played, along with Iguodala’s injury. If Cleveland wins more than a game in the series it will because of James playing out of his mind.
The Warriors have better players (including depth), shooting, defense and coaching, making it an easy prediction. Curry wins the MVP due to his ability to light it up and have the offense flow more efficiently when it runs through him.

Champion: Warriors in 5

Finals MVP: Steph Curry

Josh Burris, Head of Sports/Sports Editor

For the fourth straight year, the Warriors and Cavaliers meet in the NBA Finals. But this also has the potential to be the worst finals between these teams.
The Warriors top the Cavaliers in just about every major statistical category this postseason. Not to mention they also have four players averaging double-digit points per game, including three with at least 20.
On the Cavs’ side, it has been all LeBron James. This postseason, James is averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists. He has seven 40-point games, three triple-doubles and two buzzer-beaters. James also has just one teammate averaging double-digit points this postseason, causing James to work harder than ever.
The Warriors overmatch the Cavs in this matchup. It could be a sweep, but James has not been swept in a playoff series since the 2007 NBA Finals.
Steph Curry will finally win an NBA Finals MVP this year after teammates Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant beat him out in their previous championships.

Champion: Warriors in 5

Finals MVP: Steph Curry

Eli Sherman, Dota 2 writer/Podcaster

Well, it’s year four of “The NBA is Boring.” But surprisingly not as boring as most. LeBron is playing what could be the best basketball of his career, carrying the Cavs on his back like never before. Eight straight Finals appearances is absurd. It’s so impressive it is hard to conceptualize. He is shooting above 50 percent and averaging 34 pts per game. His Game 7 points O/U was the highest of any player ever at 39 points.

But even LeBron can only withstand this kind of load for so long. This Warriors team is head and shoulders above any team they have played during this run. And while they looked shaky against the Rockets, at times, they also still showed how dominant they could be. You know they are not coming in with any illusions about their opponent, as they have been burned by LeBron before. They showed some cracks during the Rockets series.

Golden State’s pattern of dominating the third quarter will need to continue. As the Cavs (aka LeBron) have found ways to slow down the game and keep it close. If James can turn this into an iso style series then they have a chance. I even think LeBron will steal two games late, but they won’t feel as good as they should. Capitalizing on some sloppy play down the stretch, at home, Cavs will keep it civil.

Champion: Warriors in 6

Finals MVP: Klay Thompson

Jay Louden, NBA/Soccer writer

Once again LeBron faces the gauntlet. Once again it’s the Warriors. But this time, there’s no Kyrie.

The Warriors won in five when Kyrie was there. In the one game they won, Golden State had a terrible shooting night while the Cavaliers had their best shooting night. With Kevin Love in concussion protocol, and Kyrie in Boston means that this will be a replay of the 2015 NBA Finals; plus Kevin Durant.

I fear this series will ruin the trilogy and seal LeBron’s fate to leave Cleveland once again. The Warriors are too talented to lose to LeBron and a bunch of role players (if you could even call some of them that).

Champion: Warriors in 4

Finals MVP: Steph Curry

Featured image by Mike Segar/Reuters

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