The 2015 NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers is set to commence on June 4th (Thursday) at 9:00pm ET. Most online sportsbooks, including us at GTBets.eu, are heavily favoring the Warriors on the Game 1 betting line; we have Golden State at -6. However, when you have LeBron James on your side like the Cavs do, anything can happen. But this series is about more than just LeBron vs. the Warriors, so let’s discuss some of the key matchups that we’ll see.
1. Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving
This should decidedly be in Golden State’s favor, given that Curry is the reigning league MVP and Irving hasn’t been healthy since the first round of the playoffs. And Irving says that “it would be a miracle” if he were 100% for Game 1. It will be interesting to see how much Irving can slow down Curry since the latter is shooting a blistering 43.7% from beyond the arc in the playoffs. Expect plenty of Matthew Dellavedova for the Cavs here too, because he’s a pesky defender who can pressure Curry.
Here’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup, with Thompson being the offense and Shumpert being the defense. Thompson was off his 3-point game in the Houston series. But overall, he’s still hitting 42.5% from the 3-point line in the 2015 postseason. Shumpert has actually shot pretty well in the playoffs too (36.8% from 3-point), but his tough defense is what will test an elite shooter like Thompson.
3. Tristan Thompson vs. Draymond Green
Let this season be the year that both Thompson and Green emerged as big-time players. As for Thompson, nobody has been able to keep him off the offensive glass ever since Kevin Love went down with a shoulder injury. Given that Thompson even dominated the Bulls’ big front line on the boards, don’t expect the Warriors to slow him down. As for Green, he’s one of the league’s best defensive players and he’s also a very good rebounder (10.8 in postseason). He’ll be trying to slow down both Thompson and LeBron at different points of this series.
4. Timofey Mozgov vs. Andrew Bogut
There couldn’t be a more even matchup in the Cavs vs. Warriors series, considering that Bogut and Mozgov do many of the same things. Both are strong defenders who can protect the rim, so I expect a stalemate here. However, if one of these two is able to play bigger than the other, it could swing the series dramatically in favor of their respective team.
5. Warriors Bench vs. Cavs Bench
Based on talent alone, this matchup easily goes towards the Golden State reserves. Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston could all start on (certain) other teams in the league, yet they are coming off the Warriors’ bench to fill various roles. But that’s not to say Cleveland’s bench is chopped liver, because they feature Dellavedova, James Jones and J.R. Smith. The problem is just that they don’t have much size in the normal bench rotation.
On paper, the Warriors have more advantages; but as mentioned before, you can’t immediately discount a LeBron James-led team. Many consider him the best player in the world – despite Curry winning the MVP – and he’ll get a chance to prove he’s still on top in this series. The Warriors are no doubt the ultimate NBA Finals test, so can the Cavs hang?