CANTON, Ohio- The 2017 NBA finals has come to an end. The Golden State Warriors have reclaimed the NBA title after winning their best of 7 series over the Cleveland Cavaliers after a somewhat dominating performance in game 5 at Oracle arena in Oakland.
At the beginning of the series, I was worried about how the Cavaliers would match up with Kevin Durant. Durant is such a tough guard because he’s 6’9 and 240. But, his length gives him an advantage both defensively and offensively. Cleveland didn’t have anyone who could defend him due, in large part, to his long arms. Durant is practically a center, minus the muscle, with the shooting abilities of a guard. That’s why I said before, during and after the series that his signing changed the whole series between the two teams.
Durant was named the Finals MVP and rightfully so. He played great in every game.
Klay Thompson also had a good series both shooting and defending. Steph Curry finally decided to show up for the Finals and played well.
But, for me, Golden State had the luxury of their bench stepping up and giving their starters a chance to rest. Why? Because Golden State has a system that relies on passing the ball, a lot of movement on offense and playing great defense. When you pass the ball as well as the Warriors do, that gives players open looks and easy baskets at the rim. The Warriors also ran less isolation plays in their wins as opposed to their ugly game 4 loss in Cleveland. The Cavaliers played like Golden State in their only win of the series.
Golden State won this series because they’re the better team and regardless of if you’re a fan of them or not, you simply must tip your cap to them and acknowledge Cleveland, along with every other team, will have to figure out a way to improve their teams to try and stop the Warriors. But it won’t be easy.
As for the Cavaliers, their first order of business is to get GM David Griffin signed to a new contract. Griffin has done a great job of putting together a championship roster. The gap between the Cavaliers and Warriors isn’t a big gap. But, it was enough for the Warriors to win the NBA title in 5 games.
Cleveland has next to no cap flexibility. So, if they try to pick up any all-star type player, it’ll have to be through a trade.
There’s already speculation of Cleveland dealing Love. I, for one, am not for that. Kevin had his best season in Cleveland last year. He’s finally comfortable in the offense and he gives you so much on the court. Let me also throw this out there. Cleveland isn’t a good free-throw shooting team. Love is a big man that is a great free-throw shooter. Love isn’t a good defender, but he is a good rebounder at both ends. It would take a lot for me to be ok with Cleveland trading Love.
I’ve been asked about Kyrie Irving from a couple of friends both here in Ohio and some friends out of state that still follow the Cavs. Nick, what would you do about Irving? It would take yet another special trade for me to pull the trigger on trading Irving. I don’t say that because of the shot he hit in last year’s game 7 to help Cleveland win the title either. Defensively? Irving definitely leaves much to be desired. But, offensively, Kyrie, on most nights, cannot be guarded by one man. Two, Irving is the best finisher at the rim. The way he uses the back board and some of the most awkward of angles is simply incredible. If Kyrie can become a more willing passer, that would be a step in the right direction. Also, Irving isn’t afraid to take the shot in the big moment. I’m totally against an Irving trade, even if it would be for Chris Paul. Irving is 25 and still has room for improvement. I also think some people may not understand that the NBA is more of a combo guard league now. Most point guards today shoot the ball more than they did 10 years ago. It’s almost as if teams have two shooting guards are the floor at once. With that being said, Irving needs to improve defensively and getting his teammates more involved. I don’t see Irving going anywhere.
Tristan Thompson. I still have a hard time dealing with the fact that this guy gets paid $80 million to rebound and play good defense. Both abilities are great, but if I’m paying a guy that much, especially being a starter, he better be scoring 10 points a game on top of that. And I’m being easy on him when I say that. I don’t see Thompson going anywhere because of his role, but that contract for a player like him is ridiculous.
These are the role players and what I think will happen with them by next October, when the NBA returns:
Richard Jefferson will likely retire, if he doesn’t, I don’t see Cleveland bringing him back. Deron Williams won’t be back. Before the end of the season, I thought Channing Frye would be here next season. Why on earth Lue stopped playing him is beyond me. So, now I have no idea if he’ll be back. Kyle Korver is 50/50 for me. I’d love to see him back to come off the bench. The problem is, will Korver be willing to take less money to stay? Iman Shumpert could be dealt, but he’s one of Cleveland’s best perimeter defenders, So I can’t give you an accurate answer. Unless the trade is right, I don’t see J.R. Smith going anywhere. I have no idea about James Jones. Good 3-point shooter and great locker room guy. It wouldn’t take much to keep him, as in $1 million. That’s pennies in sports today. If Cleveland can get Derrick Williams to sign for a small contract, I’d like to see him come back and be on the bench. Williams is young, big, physical, good defender, athletic and one of those energy guys. Does anyone remember Edy Tavares? Cleveland signed him after the Bogut injury and the failed Larry Sanders experiment. Tavares is young, but stands 7-3 and 260. He would provide Cleveland with size, length and would bring in some much-needed youth to this team. Why not give him a chance?
So, to go back over everything. Unless the trade is really major, I don’t see Irving or Love being traded. And, as I heard on the radio before the game started last night, in which I agree with. If you make a trade using Irving or Love, the chances of the trade working out in your favor are far less likely than they are to get Cleveland to be better without them. I completely agree. This team simply needs a new bench and to get younger and more athletic. You can’t have your starters playing 43+ minutes a game most of the time. James led the league in minutes played last season. That cannot happen next year. The bench has to do a better job of allowing the starters to rest.
This series was won by the better team. The officials had some bad moments, but you’ll have that. My only criticism was when, in game 4, Draymond Green was clearly called for two technical fouls and then the refs came back and said they called it on Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. Everyone from the scorer’s table to the sideline reporter said they heard the call as Draymond Green. That makes the NBA look very bad. Other than that, this series played out the way it should have on paper. The Warriors played great 4 out of 5 and were rewarded.
How about LeBron James being the first player in NBA finals history to average a triple-double in a Finals series? Anyone want to doubt how great of a player he is still? By the way, he’s still playing at this elite level at the age of 32.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis