Custom Search






NBA Finals

June 4, 2015

I have not spoken much of the NBA Playoffs this spring. My reasoning is that the early round matchups were not all that intriguing and did not provide much excitement.

That could all change in the Finals as the NBA gets a chance to salvage its 2014-15 campaign with an eye-catching matchup featuring the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The showdown features LeBron James, a four-time MVP and the league’s most dominant player, and Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP and the league’s most exciting player.

LeBron James

Joining the two most popular players in basketball are a host of other talented players. Along with James, Cleveland has all star Kyrie Irving and former sixth man of the year winner, J.R. Smith. Joining Curry for Golden State is all-star Klay Thompson, and 2015 All-Defensive honorees Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut.

Another storyline is the lack of history both teams have playing basketball in June. Golden State is seeking its first title since 1975 and its second title since relocating to California in 1962. The 67-win Warriors are also pursuing a spot next to the greatest teams in league history.

Cleveland, meanwhile, is seeking the first title of its 45-year franchise history, as James looks to complete the circle by bringing a championship trophy to his home state of Ohio after claiming two in Miami. While James has officially matched Michael Jordan’s six career Finals appearance, and surpassed Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan by making five straight, he needs a victory to avoid a 2-4 career mark.

There were not any upsets in the early rounds and we are clearly left with the best two teams. Since Jan. 23, the date that the Cavaliers fully formed with their current roster, Golden State had the league’s best record (33-9), with Cleveland a close second (30-9).

Stephen Curry

After that date, the Cavaliers closed the season with the league’s most efficient offense (109.6), with Golden State a close second (109.1). In the playoffs, Cleveland (12-2 in the East) and Golden State (12-3) both breezed through their conference brackets, while ranking No. 1 and 2, respectively, in offensive rating.

I see this series giving us great and fun-to-watch basketball, with plenty of strategy.  Both teams are guided by MVP-quality players that have enjoyed big late-game performances in this playoffs. Both also have complementary stars and well-fitting role players.

Golden State enters as heavy favorites. To reach the Finals, the Warriors shot through the stronger Western Conference in the regular season and continued their excellence by beating New Orleans, Memphis, and Houston. Although the Warriors’ key players are lacking in Finals experience, they are as prepared as any team can be for James and the Cavaliers. By comparison, Cleveland advanced through a below-.500 Celtics team, a Bulls team that faced injury issues and off-court issues, and a Hawks team that was depleted and playing well below the standard expected of a 60-win team. 

Golden State will have plenty of offense. They always do. What will make the difference is that the Warriors now also have an elite defense is capable of providing a much stiffer test to the Cavaliers than the Celtics, Bulls or Hawks.

I looked at the likely matchups. They all seem to break in the Warriors favor. Much like the Western Conference finals, where Curry went nuts and a platoon approach succeeded in limiting James Harden’s effectiveness, Golden State has more capable players to throw at James than the Cavaliers have to use on Curry (who is averaging 29.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.9 rebounds while shooting 43.7% on threes during the postseason).

The Warriors can try Green, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Thompson on James at various times, and they can trust Bogut to protect the rim.

I can easily see Cleveland pulling off a surprise. Why you ask? Because of LeBron. James combines elite scoring, brilliant playmaking, positional versatility, steady leadership and years of experience. That combination of skills has enabled James to average 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. Anytime you have the best player on the floor, you can win. And James is the best player on the planet.

It’s worth nothing that James was lights out against the Warriors when he scored 42 points in the regular season, shooting 15-25 overall, 7-for-15 outside the paint and 4-for-9 from deep. The Cavaliers will absolutely need those type of numbers from James along with picking up their defensive intensity.

I am going to take Golden State in five games. James and the Cavs will put up a valiant effort in the early games before wearing down.

NHL Playoffs

The NHL Finals are also here. Tampa Bay will take on the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both teams big time talent. In Steven Stamkos, the Lightning possess an elite gamebreaker whose 43 regular season goals were second only to Alex Ovechkin’s 53. And Chicago still has Jonathan Toews and Patrick Cane.

I have to go with Chicago here. They are going for their third Stanley Cup in six years while Tampa Bay makes a run like this about once every 10 years.

The Blackhawks are deeper with four productive lines compared to just two effective lines for Tampa Bay. One amazing stat is that the first two lines of Tampa Bay has tallied 20 of the team’s last 21 goals.

I will be rooting for Tampa Bay because they are fun to watch. But I would have to take Chicago in six games if I was a betting man.

Stephen Curry


































Edwards Back In Winners Circle

NFL To Change Football Rules

Deflate-Gate Hits Pats Hard

NFL Draft News

What’s Up With Deflate-Gate

What? Tebow Again

Get Used To Spieth

Duke Claims Title

The Familiar Four

NCAA Tournament Continues

March Madness

Tark The Shark

Duke Is Gearing Up For March Madness

I Don’t Get It

Yankee Hypocrisy

Honoring Dean Smith

Common Sense

Get Your Mind On The Game

NFL Championship Sunday

Panthers Eliminated

Panthers Move On

Panthers Playoff Bound

Sid’s 2014 Bowl Predictions

Kobe vs. Michael

Where Did That Come From?

Goodell Takes A Hit

Fragile Cavs

RG III Needs To Look In The Mirror

Heels AD Still Has Williams’ Back

Bumgarner Saves The Giants

Optimism Abounds With The Hornets

An Unlikely World Series

Winston Off Field Turmoil Continues

Panthers Rebound

October Baseball

Panthers Facing New Questions

Reality With Rice

Panthers Win, Panthers Win 

Carolina Panthers Preview

College Football Preview

When Will Manziel Show Some Poise?

A Tragic Racing Moment

NCAA Football Talk

Got Off Easy

ACC Football Preseason Poll Is Out

LeBron Changes Image

LeBron Still Undecided

Game Effort By USA

The Decision II

Spurs Claim Dynasty Tag

Sour Grapes

Heat Make NBA Finals Again

Cavs Win Lottery (Again)


Panthers And The Draft

Not So Sterling

NBA Playoff Action

Phelps Diving Back Into It


Final Four Fodder

NCAA Hoop Madness

March Madness, 2014 Style

One and Done

Heels Heating Up

Setting The Record Straight

Martin And Incognito

Bobcats Appear To Be Moving Forward (This Time)

A Super Letdown

Super Bowl Preview

Broncos and Seahawks Reach Super Bowl

Panthers Were Not Ready

Seminoles End SEC Streak

2013 In Review

Sid’s Bowl Picks

Mack Brown Resigns

BCS Gets It Right

Did You See The Classic?

ACC Hoop Preview

NFL Coaching Hot Seats

Panthers Are The Talk Of The NFL

Ravens Not Flying So High These Days

A Jeff Gordon Sighting

World Series Preview

Craziness Within College Football

Dissension In Tar Heel Land

SEC Football Rules

Nickname Controversy

Panthers And Rivera Lose Another Close One


NFL, 2013 Style

Panthers Are Cam’s Team

Heels Sticking With Hairston

NCAA Hypocrisy

Does NASCAR Need Young Talent?

Crash & Burn?

PHIL-thy Good

An All Star Night

Charlotte Signs Jefferson

NBA Free Agency And Charlotte

LeBron vs. Michael

Major Problem For Tiger

Police Blotter Hits Tar Heel Hoop Program

NBA Finals Are Set

Irish Eyes Are Not Smiling

NBA Final Four

Tiger May Be Having His Best Season Ever

NBA Playoff Action

No Draft Buzz With The Panthers

NBA Playoff Preview

Tiger Should Have Been DQed

Baseball Is Back

Final Four Fodder

Sweet 16 Madness

March Madness

He’s Back

Kelly’s A Hero

Who Said Girls Can’t Race?

Danica Is On The Pole

King James

Flacco & The Ravens Hang On



BannerEventAd-01.jpg   fanjoylabrenz.jpg

PO Box 1721 | Hickory, NC 28603 | 828.322.1036 | Office Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9am - 5pm |

Home • Reviews: MoviesAdam Long • Editorials: FocusHave Chainsaw Will TravelSid On SportsBobbi GSara MawyerPeople PicturesPlaces/PeopleExtra Events Listing
Out Of Focus • News: Local NewsNational NewsHoroscopes • Info/Links: Staff/ContributorsList Of AdvertisersOnline AdvertisingOnline ClassifiedsContact UsFocus BLOGStoreLinks

© 1978 - 2018 Tucker Productions, Inc.