The title reads “Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors,” but it could just as easily read “LeBron James vs. Steph Curry”, as the most valuable player in the league takes on the best player on earth. Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off tonight at ORACLE Arena (9:00 PM Eastern) and, while it’s a team game, expect these stars to trade big shots early and often .
Curry leads all playoff scorers (who’ve played more than four games, cough cough Anthony Davis), averaging 29.2 PPG. He has been lights out all playoffs following his MVP season, but all that will be meaningless unless the Warriors can bring home the title, something they haven’t done since 1975 (when it only took 12 wins).
In potentially the biggest game the city has seen, Curry and company will want to make it a memorable night for some of the best fans in the NBA.
It’s no secret that Golden State is the better team heading into this matchup, but if anyone can will their team to a win in hostile territory, it’s King James.
After a full week of rest, any injury concerns surrounding the two biggest stars of the series should subside. Curry had his scary head knock in Game 5, while James struggled to make it through a gritty Game 3 OT. Both will be in as good a shape as you can expect after almost 100 games, but the same can’t be said for the Cavs’ Kyrie Irving. Battling tendonitis and a foot injury, Irving is far from 100-percent heading into tonight’s affair.
If Lebron’s number two isn’t firing on all cylinders, he’ll look to Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith for secondary scoring. The duo has upped their play in the absence of Kevin Love, with Smith averaging 15.4 PPG and Thompson averaging 10.3 since Love’s injury. James will need their stellar play to continue on a big stage they’re not used too.
In fact, that’s probably Cleveland’s only advantage heading into Game 1: LBJ’s familiarity with the big stage. But this is a Warriors team with only three losses at home all year (including playoffs), and the crowd will have Oracle abuzz. Expect them to cover in a game that should easily hit the over.
Pick: Warriors (-5.5)
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (LeBron James) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)