Basketball

Warriors or Cavaliers will win NBA Finals if …

Golden State center Andrew Bogut, right, playing ferociously against Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, left, earlier in the NBA playoffs, could be a key factor in any success the Warriors might enjoy in the finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Golden State center Andrew Bogut, right, playing ferociously against Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, left, earlier in the NBA playoffs, could be a key factor in any success the Warriors might enjoy in the finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. AP

The Cavaliers will win the championship if:

Kyrie Irving stays healthy: The All-Star point guard has been bothered by knee tendinitis, but he should benefit from the long layoff before the Finals. With Kevin Love already out, the Cavaliers cannot expect LeBron James to carry the team by himself.

They dominate with their size: Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson have to dominate the glass and have their way inside. If they can get Andrew Bogut into foul trouble, it would rob the Warriors of their defensive anchor and a key part of their offense.

James is at his all-time best: James said he’s playing as well as he ever has, even though his three-point shooting has been poor and he’s been criticized for not displaying his usual efficiency. If James averages near a triple double and makes an impact on defense, that might be too much – even for a deep Warriors team.

The Warriors will win the championship if:

They take care of the ball: If the Warriors have a weakness, it’s turnovers. They have a dynamic offense and great defense, but when they commit turnovers, opponents can keep up with them on the scoreboard.

They own the paint: Bogut must be at his best to deter Irving and James from getting to the rim to create opportunities for others. Forcing James to shoot from the outside is a must. James has made only 12 of 68 three-point attempts in the playoffs.

They keep the ball moving: This shouldn’t be a problem because the Warriors are unselfish. But it’s a must against the Cavaliers’ big defenders, whose harassment of perimeter players can make the Warriors easier to defend.

Jason Jones

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