The Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors are set to do battle in the NBA Finals, which will begin on Thursday night. The Warriors, who are back-to-back winners of the title and have won 3 of the past 4 championships, will face a challenge from the upstart Raptors, who defeated the #1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Golden State is the popular choice to win, and it’s easy to see why. With a strong cast of elite talents such as Steph Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson, the Dubs can outscore any team in the league. This is without even counting Kevin Durant, whose status is up in the air for the series.
While it might be tempting to go with the Raptors and the hottest player in the league in Kawhi Leonard, I think the Golden State Warriors are set to win their third consecutive NBA Finals.
First, it’s important to take into account the weapons that Golden State has. If Durant (who has been ruled out for Game 1) is able to return, the Warriors will have three players that averaged more than 21.5 PPG during the regular season in the lineup, adding Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. In addition, the Warriors shot an absurd 49.1% from the field during the season while scoring 117.1 point per game, proving that they are an offensive juggernaut.
The Raptors simply don’t have the same scoring firepower as Golden State. Only Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 26.1 points per game, was able to break a 17 point average on the year. While they have some complimentary role players that can score in bunches like Kyle Lowry, the Warriors will have an easier time when double-teaming Leonard and leaving their unproven scorers to test their luck.
Also, it’s important to note that Golden State simply has more experience in these situations. This is the Warriors’ fifth straight Finals appearance, meaning that their players are accustomed to the high pressure situations that these games can have. For Toronto, this is uncharted territory. The franchise was established in 1995, and this is the team’s first ever trip to the NBA Finals.
I’ll bet on experience and familiarity in this case, and Golden State has a proven core of players that have handled these situations well in the past.
For these reasons, I expect the Golden State Warriors to take home the NBA Finals in 6 games. Toronto will put up a valiant fight, but the Warriors should be able to lift the Commissioner’s Trophy yet again.