2015 NBA Finals: 5 Reasons Why The Cleveland Cavaliers Will Beat The Golden State Warriors


The 2015 NBA Finals is a dream match up for basketball fans, with reigning MVP Stephen Curry set to square off against the best player on the planet, LeBron James. A lot is at stake for both franchises, as the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t won the Larry O’Brien trophy since their inception in 1970.

The Golden State Warriors haven’t hoisted a new banner since the Rick Barry days of 1975.

So why can Cleveland break a title drought that dates back to 1964? Here’s five reasons why:

1. Defensively, the Cavs are playing at a high level–and they must continue to do so to upset the Warriors. Entering the Finals, Cleveland is allowing 92.6 points per game–the best in the NBA playoffs.

Iman Shumpert becomes a restricted free agent this summer, and everyone will see why he’ll be coveted. He’s stellar on perimeter defense, and that asset is huge when your playing the likes of Curry and Klay Thompson.

Jan 9, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov (20) attempts to gain control of a rebound against the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 112-94. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Like they did with Atlanta, the Cavs can’t go under picks when Curry and Thompson possess the ball on the perimeter. They need to go over the top and stick with Golden State’s shooters.

There’s no shutting down Curry–like there’s no shutting down LeBron–but if Shump and the rest of the Cavs can limit Thompson and to some extent, Curry, Cleveland will be in good shape.

David Blatt will also have the option to put James on Curry, and hopefully he’ll utilize that strategy at the beginning and end of games. It may be Cleveland’s best chance to neutralize the reigning MVP.

2. When you have LeBron, your team is always going to have a shot. James’ jump shot is so weak heading into the Finals, the four-time MVP couldn’t hit sand standing on Edgewater Beach.

Regardless, he’s making up for his shooting deficiency by contributing in other areas. He’s going to rack and that’s forcing defenses to collapse on him, which  frees up shooters.

There’s also the possibility James can find his jumper. He’s so good, the shot is capable of coming back at any moment.

And in case you’re wondering, what happened the one time James played against the 67-win Warriors?

Steve Kerr used Draymond Green, Andre IguodalaHarrison Barnes and Thompson and nothing worked. James scored 42, grabbed 11 boards and dished out five dimes in a 110-99 Cavs win.

3. The Cavs’ offense hasn’t been that bad despite a limited Kyrie Irving and an injured Kevin Love missing the past two series. Cleveland is averaging just over 101 points per game.

May 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots over Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the first quarter in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

This is huge, because the Warriors have lost just three times to an opponent who’s scored fewer than 100.

The Cavs and James can’t get into the habit of James dribbling the ball at the top of key for 20 seconds. The ball has to move around the perimeter, because, as this team has shown, there are guys who can make shots.

Shumpert is shooting 37 percent from downtown, which is four percent better than he shot during the regular season. J.R. Smith is shooting close to 40 percent. And this isn’t even taking into account what Irving might be able to do if a little healthier.

4. The Warriors haven’t faced a ton of adversity this season, especially when compared to the Cavs. If you think about it, Cleveland’s team has gone through three phases this season.

There was what we saw at season’s start–a squad that started 19-20. And then the engine that climbed up the standings after LeBron returned from his winter hiatus, which leaves us with the present. Love is out and all the Cavs did was adapt, owning a 12-2 playoff record going into the Finals.

Remember, in the second round when Tony Allen was able to play for Memphis? He smothered Klay Thompson and was a big reason the Warriors committed 20 turnovers in Game 2. Thompson shot just 1-of-6 from 3-point range during that contest and Golden State tasted adversity really for the first time this season.

Thompson and Curry combined to go 5-of-16 in the Game 3 defeat, before finally getting back on track and winning the next three to eliminate Memphis.

After the Game 3 loss, Kerr talked about a “young team” going through a “learning experience.” Despite their youth, Golden State is an experienced team having battled through the west to reach the Finals. But, as Kerr pointed out, they’re still young and James is the best player on the court.

How the Warriors react to adversity may be what flips the series in the Cavs’ direction. Play Thompson has been ruled out indefinitely with a concussion, and if he’s not ready to go in Game 1, Golden Sate will face a huge test right off the bat.

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5. Tristan Thompson will continue to be an offensive rebounding maven. He’s averaging 4.0 offensive boards per game, and his ability to clean the glass gives the Cavs a real advantage.

Atlanta tried tried to double-team TT on the glass. They face guarded him, and tried to box him out. It didn’t work. Golden State should also fail to limit Thompson because they’re small.

Kerr can count on Draymond Green (6-foot-7) and his center, Andrew Bogut, but it shouldn’t be enough to stop Thompson.

Golden State’s shooters are going to give the Cavs fits, so it will be imperative Cleveland makes the Warriors to pay on the other end, and one way to do that is through Thompson and the extra possessions he can create.

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