Before the NBA playoffs began I picked Golden State to beat Cleveland in the Finals. Who else would dare make such a pick?
Well, almost everybody. And the few that didn’t pick Golden State or Cleveland will claim they did.
The Warriors are the league’s best team. The Atlanta Hawks had the Eastern Conference’s best record. But other than fans of the Hawks, who now number in the hundreds, do you anybody who picked Atlanta to go deeper in the playoffs than Cleveland?
San Antonio had the best shot at beating the Warriors, but they were eliminated in the first round. So we got the Finals most of us crave. We got the two best players this season, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Cleveland’s Lebron James, and we got the two best teams. The anticipation for me is comparable to last month’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
▪ Curry has averaged 29.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the playoffs. He’s shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from 3-point range.
▪ LeBron has averaged 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists. He’s shooting 42.8 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from 3-point range.
If you’re a Golden State fan, do you celebrate LeBron’s poor shooting? Or do you worry that if the Cavaliers win with him missing they’ll dominate when he returns to regular-season form? He shot 48.8 percent from the field this season and 35.4 percent on 3-pointers.
LeBron’s shooting will improve. But it won’t be sufficient. The Warriors won their first five games this season and nothing suggests that the excellence they’ve sustained is about to change. They play better defense than Cleveland, and they can score a little, too.
One player you’ll scream for or at is Cleveland point guard Matthew Dellavedova. An Aussie, Dellavedova plays Australian Rules basketball. He flings his body around and appears not to be concerned where - or on which opponent’s body part - it lands.
The Finals will offer villains and stars and a lot of Eastern Time Zone fans who would rather forgo sleep than miss a fourth quarter. I’ll see you at the coffee shop the morning after, and we’ll talk about what we saw.
The last of our conversations will be June 17. That’s the morning after Golden State ends the series in six games.
Sorensen: 704-358-5119; email@example.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen