The NBA Finals tip off in 2 days. I'm coming to you today with one of my favorite blogs to write, and that is my finals preview and prediction.
I will say, in the entirety of this website, I am pretty sure this is the first time that the Warriors are not going up against the Cavs. The Warriors are still there, but after the debacle that was the Lakers season, and LeBron going out West, this year, the Toronto Raptors exorcised some demons, traded for Kawhi Leonard, and they are there as the East's representative. Unfortunately for them, I don't think Kawhi will be enough to dethrone the Warriors. He is also hurt. And, along with Kawhi, the Raptors acquired Danny Green for his three point shooting and defense, but in the past 2 series he has been pretty much unplayable. He isn't making shots and he is getting beat regularly on defense.
It also needs to be said that the Warriors will, most likely, be without KD for the Finals, and even though he has hinted at playing, I think it would be better for both parties if Boogie Cousins didn't play either. But, last week I wrote a piece on how much fun the Warriors have looked since KD went down with a calf injury. They are certainly not better, no team would be better if their best overall player was out. But, they are so much more balanced, and fun, to watch again. This current iteration, as I said last week, reminds me of the first Warriors team led by Klay and Draymond and Steph and Steve Kerr that won the title in 2015. They play a lovely brand of space and pace. They are a faster version of the Spurs, with much, much more prolific shooters.
So, while I don't think this series will go very long, I do think it will be a tough played and hard fought Finals. Kawhi Leonard has been otherworldly in these playoffs. He has been a scoring machine. He has held up like the boss he is on the defensive end of the floor. He definitely got into Giannis' head in the last series, and shut down Ben Simmons. Who's to say he won't do that to a player like Steph or Klay. But, therein lies the problem with the Raptors, and what benefits the Warriors. Kawhi can only stop one guy. Whoever he isn't on has the ability to go off, especially if they are a perimeter player. Look, I love that Kyle Lowry has played better in these playoffs, but either Steph or Klay will torch him. And who's to say that he won't regress in the Finals. I hope he doesn't, but that seems to be his move every year in the playoffs. He's also going to find it hard to score on Klay, who I imagine the Warriors will put on him. Draymond is the biggest X factor in this series. He has been wildly impressive during these playoffs, running the offense and playing exquisite defense. His scoring hasn't been there, but they haven't needed him to score. Does he guard Kawhi, or do the Warriors basically let Kawhi get his, and dare everyone else on Toronto to beat them? I'd say they let Kawhi go off because, outside of him, no one on Toronto has put together a solid stretch of games. Pascal Siakim has been better of late, but he has been very inconsistent, and this is, by far, the biggest stage he has ever played on. How he reacts to the big stage will say a lot about Toronto's hopes for pulling the upset. Serge Ibaka has been to a Finals before, but he has only gotten older and slower since then. He is also a mid range shooter now, and the Warriors will use their speed to get him off the floor. This is also the furthest that Marc Gasol has ever been in the playoffs. He has also been a reluctant shooter all playoffs. He will have a height and weight advantage on whoever plays center for Golden State, with the exception being Andrew Bogut, but he is well past his prime. But, I don't think that will matter. I don't think he will be able to keep up with the speed that Golden State has been playing with since KD went out.
Kawhi Leonard is great. He has reestablished himself as a top five player. He is going to make a ton of money this offseason, and this postseason from him has been a joy to watch. That will only be good enough for 1 game to me. I am picking the Warriors to win in 5 games. But, I think it will be 5 hotly contested games. I get the same feeling from this matchup as I did from the Blazers-Warriors West Finals. The Blazers are a good team, they just aren't at Golden State's level, even without KD. But, no team is as good as the Warriors are. They are a dynasty. They are the 21st century Bulls. And the fact that I don't even think they need KD to win their third straight finals should speak volumes as to how good I think they are.
The Warriors are the dominant NBA team, and they will win their third straight finals to really cement their status. I cannot wait for Thursday. Lets get back to some NBA playoff basketball.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.