Breaking Down Each Starting Matchup For The NBA Finals

Breaking Down Each Starting Matchup For The NBA Finals

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stephen curry lebron james
AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

It’s set, for the third time in a row the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will face off for the NBA crown.

This time around, the teams look a little different, but both teams come in with the memories of what it’s like to face each other in June.

Each position for both teams are strong, but who has the upper hand? Let’s take a look and break down each position.

Point Guard

Stephen Curry

stephen curry
(Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

The man that needs no introduction will be orchestrating the beautiful offense that is the Warriors. Curry has been tearing up the playoffs one game at a time, averaging 28.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game.

Things we will most likely see from Mr. Curry are amazing handles, three-pointers from the parking lot, and finishing around the rim that will leave your jaw on the floor.

His battle with the man running the offense for the Cavs will be something that every NBA fan dreams of.

Kyrie Irving

kyrie irving
Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports

Much like Curry, great handles, great shooting from three, and the ability to finish around the rim will be on display from this point guard.

If you look at his averages in the playoffs you may not be too impressed, but you have to look at his recent streak first.

In the series against the Boston Celtics, he averaged 25.8 points and 5.4 assists per game, while shooting 50 percent from the three-point line and 62 percent from the field.

Please basketball gods, give me Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving going toe-to-toe in a seven-game series.

Advantage: This matchup is way too close to say who has the advantage. Expect to see a lot of back and forth. Each game could go either way when it comes to which player will have the better game.

Shooting Guard

Klay Thompson

klay thompson
Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Lock down defense, great shooting, and an overall beast of a two way player. This is to be expected of Klay Thompson, not only in the NBA Finals, but in his career.

He’s only averaging 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game in the playoffs, but what he does goes beyond the stats.

Locking down the opponent’s best player is no joke with Thompson. He seems to get that done on a nightly basis and that’s going to be needed when LeBron James comes to town.

Although the stats don’t pop off the page, what he does can be seen when you watch him play.

JR Smith

JR Smith
Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been a great run for JR in the playoffs so far, only averaging 6.7 points per game, but one thing stays true about him; he loves the big moments.

Playing in the NBA Finals is the biggest moment for a player in the league and JR will have to step up if the Cavs are going to win back-to-back titles.

His defense has gotten better, but his shooting isn’t there yet.

Advantage: The Warriors’ have the advantage here. It’s the battle of the shooters at SG, but Klay’s defense and ability to be consistent on both ends is what separates them from each other.

This position is going to be huge in determining who takes home the trophy.

Small Forward

Kevin Durant

kevin durant
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

First year with the Warriors and Kevin Durant is back in the NBA Finals.

With everyone trying to figure out how it would even be possible to integrate Durant into this offense, it’s been solved. The offense looks more dangerous than ever and Durant has been a huge part in that.

He’s averaging 25.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game so far in the playoffs.

You should expect to see Durant continue to put up quality shots in the Finals and he has a great chance of winning Finals MVP.

LeBron James

LeBron James
AP PHOTO/TONY DEJAK

The King versus Durant. Just like the matchup between Kyrie and Stephen, this is a dream for NBA fans.

James is having a monster playoff run and the Cavs will need every bit of it to take down the NBA’s hottest team.

He’s been in beast mode, averaging 32.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game in the playoffs.

His most recent accomplishment was passing Michael Jordan for number one all-time in career playoff points with 5,995

Advantage: This matchup is another one that is way too close to call. Both of these guys are capable of putting their team on their back and bringing home a title.

It’s splitting hairs, but LeBron could get the advantage for the recent tear he has been on in the playoffs.

Power Forward

Draymond Green

Draymond Green
Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Three things are certain; Draymond Green doesn’t like the Cavs, the Cavs don’t like Draymond Green, and Draymond Green is going to bring everything he has to this series.

If you don’t think he’s excited to take on the Cavs, give this a listen.

He has typical Draymond Green numbers so far in the post-season, averaging 13.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game.

Kevin Love

kevin love
John Kuntz/cleveland.com

Love has been averaging a double-double in the playoffs so far and his numbers have been even more impressive as of late.

Overall, he’s averaging 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in the playoffs, but in the Eastern Conference Finals he averaged 22.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game.

Advantage: This will be a really fun matchup to watch. Two stretch fours with toughness, grit, and the ability to shoot and pass at a high level.

Love has been the more impressive player recently, but Green has the ability to step up and dominate a series.

Love by a hair on this win.

Center

Zaza Pachulia

Zaza Pachulia
Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

Zaza Pachulia has brought a toughness to the Warriors that they need. He also has a great ability to rebound the ball on both ends.

He’s another player that his stats aren’t going to jump off the page, but what he does still goes a long way.

He didn’t play in game three or four against the Spurs due to injury, but he is likely going to play in game one of the NBA Finals. 

Tristan Thompson

tristan thompson
Thomas Ondrey, The Plain Dealer

Talk about rebounding and Tristan Thompson’s name comes up. The dude lives, eats, breathes rebounding and his numbers reflect that.

He’s averaging 9.7 rebounds per game in the playoffs, but that doesn’t reflect the constant battling he does around the rim that wears own the opposing team’s big men.

Pachulia versus Thompson is going to full of grit, hard nosed defense, and a ton of rebounding.

Advantage: Both of these guys are tough, but Thompson has the advantage here. They will both be keys in getting missed shots and also keeping possessions alive on the glass.

Overall

You can’t just base the Finals off of these matchups, but they play the biggest role. The benches from both teams will play a significant role in deciding who will be crowned the NBA’s champion.

The first game will take place June 1 in Oakland at 8 pm CT on ABC.

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