Rivalries: Cleveland VS Golden State

 Cleveland VS Golden State: NBA final

It is not the first time the final standoff starts at the National Basketball Association. For the fourth time in a row, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers converge, and by this fact the teams set the NBA record. Never in the history of the Association has an absolutely identical pair of teams played in the final series for the fourth year in a row. Of course, history knew the longer stages of domination (Boston Celtics went to the championship final ten seasons in a row from 1957 to 1966), but for both teams to win their conferences simultaneously, this is new to the NBA. So far, the Warriors are leading with this score 2-1 (winning the final series in 2015 and 2017 and losing to Cavaliers in 2016).

In the season of 2018, the path of the finalists to the top was especially difficult. The Golden State held an extremely difficult final of the conference against Houston Rockets, dragging the win in the decisive seventh game, thanks in part to the very low percentage of three-point shots from their opponents in the second half of the match. Cleveland was on the verge of relegation in the first round of the playoffs, when only another brilliant game from LeBron James pulled Cavaliers into the next round. The “Cleveland” conference finals also went “on thin”, and LeBron in the last match of the series could not even afford a few seconds of rest, running off the entire bout without substitutions. In general, the finals of conferences in 2018 turned out to be more interesting than ever before, dragging on until the seventh matches. And the teams participating in them were also interesting because none of them was similar to each other. Judge for yourself: “Boston Seltiks” – a team without top stars, in which two key players (Kairi Irving and Gordon Hayward) did not play due to injuries, “Cleveland Cavaliers” – a team with the best player of the Association, but almost there is no decent support, the Houston Rockets are a team with two stars in the roster, which are competently complemented by well-chosen quality players and Golden State Warriors are a team with four top players playing at once, which makes their starting five the strongest in the league .

Many basketball fans assumed (and wanted) to see another couple of finalists (or at least one new team) in the decisive season series, but the class of LeBron and the top four “Golden State” plus injuries of the players “Celtics” and “Rocket” (especially annoying “Houston” and the injury of Chris Paul) led to a repetition of the participants of the three previous finals. If we move to a comparison of the composition of rivals, then there is a clear advantage in the “Golden State”. Their top four (Curry, Green, Durant, Thompson) can decide the outcome of any match in their favor. In the seventh game against Houston, these players scored 90 out of 101 points scored by the team as a whole. And although these players can successfully play and defend their own ring, the Warriors lacks hard-working players in their lineup who will clean up behind their star partners and defensively defend themselves against their opponents. The only player who fits well for this role is the swingman Andre Igudala, who suffered a left knee injury in the third match against Houston and has not gone to the court since then. So it turns out that the team with four top stars in the line-up turned out to be very dependent on the 34-year-old veteran, and on the need to rebuild the team game in the absence of Igudala, the Warriors trainer Steve Kerr has repeatedly said in his interviews.

The timing of the return of Igudala to the floor is not yet known, but much will depend on his participation or non-participation in the final. However, Golden State is able to win the series without it, when there are three players in your team (Curry, Durant and Thompson) gaining more than 20 points per game in the playoffs, and the fourth player gains a double-double in postseason matches (Draymond Green – 11.1 points per game + 11.6 rebounds), the rest of the players will be able to “carry the piano” for their star partners. But there is someone to “carry the piano” in “Cleveland”. Only here with the performers there is not all smooth. Lebron James is logically for the Cavaliers, the first option in the attack, but he cannot count on stable assistance from partners. Yes, in the playoffs, there were good matches with Kevin Love, George Hill, JR Smith, Kyle Corver, in which they scored around twenty points. Only they do not have what distinguishes a good player from a really cool one – stability. Any of these, of course, good players can finish one match with a score of 20+ in the graph of points scored, and in the next one – dissolve on the court. Especially uneasy, Cleveland will be in view of the concussion of Kevin Love, which he received at the beginning of the sixth match against Boston. Kevin Love, who is a potential second star of the team, and so does not have his best season, and then the injury before the decisive matches raises many questions about the chances of Cleveland to succeed.

Let’s sum up

In the last 4 years, two teams invariably ruled the territory of the National Basketball League, who was the unconditional leaders of their conferences, instilling fear and awe in the minds of any opponent. It was this confrontation that pleased the fans in the last four finals. The audience has already managed to get bored with the hegemony of the two teams. But during the off-season a lot has changed dramatically, now the teams are at different ends of the standings. December 6 at 03:00 Moscow time, they will converge again to find out who had better offset the offseason.

Cleveland Cavaliers

This is for who the offseason has become a “dark” time. Who would have thought that the team would decide to leave the club symbol, as well as the player who spent an average of more than 35 minutes on the floor? LeBron James gave Cleveland and all fans a championship title for the 2015/2016 season, but the next two attempts were unsuccessful and the “King” left for Los Angeles. With his departure, the team became wildly feverish, in 23 matches only 5 victories were won, and in the table the squad Larry Drew was placed only 13th in the Eastern Conference. On the positive side, the victory over Brooklyn in the last game can be highlighted.

Golden State Warriors

The “golden wars” outwardly easily transferred the transfer period and at the start of the season they simply demolished their rivals, leaving no chance. But then in the coordinated mechanism, something went wrong. Injuries played the biggest role in the recession. The loss of Stephen Curry was especially painful for the team. As a result we can observe 16 victories with 9 losses and only 4th place in the Western Conference. Obviously it’s not the result that fans expect from the club. In the last matches, Curry returned and the game began to sparkle with new colors, the Golden State began to win again.

History of confrontation

The best indicator is that in the last 4 years the teams met each other four times in the big finals of the National Basketball League. Only once Cleveland managed to overcome the “warriors”, the other three finals without much difficulty went into the piggy bank of the Golden State. The last final was particularly noteworthy, because it was recorded 4-0, which speaks of absolute superiority. Over the past 5 years, the Golden State was able to become a real dynasty.

Forecast for future matches

Teams approach further fights in too different psychological and physical condition to talk about the presence of any intrigue. Of course, the home stands of the “Queensland Loans” will tirelessly chase the pets forward, but they are unlikely to be able to oppose the current champion. As a result, the choice of the Golden State Warriors victory with a handicap of 9.5 points looks obvious. In addition, lately Kevin Durant, who is literally dragging a team on his shoulders, has been “shot” very badly. It seems that he will be able to throw over his “friends” more than 19.5 points.

“Golden State” vs “Cleveland”: is it a dead end?

So, in 2019 we are waiting for another clash of giants. “Golden State” became the first team in history, reached the final, scoring 12 wins in a row from the start of the playoffs. “Warriors” not only won these matches, they destroyed their rivals – the average difference was 16.3 points. And this is also a record. What is more impressive, in the entire history of the league, only three teams reached the mark of 15.0 points (twice, the Lakers and Milwaukee -1970/71). Another meeting won – and “Warriors” will repeat the record for the duration of the winning series in the playoffs, which belongs to the “Lakers” -1988/89 and … their future rivals from “Cleveland”.

“Cavaliers” on the way to the final lost only once, and LeBron James simultaneously beat Michael Jordan’s record for the number of points scored in the playoffs (not counting a few other achievements). And yes, before the defeat of “Boston”, the reigning champions in the same way destroyed all their opponents, having such superiority over them that it was sometimes obvious how boring they were, and the most discussed topic after the next match was: “Why did LeBron decide to score left hand? ” So the Celtics really have something to be proud of.