By examining the current playoff picture, we determined the chances of seeing a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors.
These two teams are on track to win their first round series (the Warriors lead their series with the Rockets 2-1 while the Cavs have a 2-0 lead against the Pistons), but their road to the NBA Finals to set up a rematch from last year is long and hard. Who are the potential opponents for these teams, can any of them upset the NBA odds and spoil a Cavaliers vs. Warriors rematch in the NBA Finals?
The Cavaliers are -3700 favorites on the NBA odds board at Pinnacle to win their first round series against the Pistons (+1700). Detroit improved from 32 victories last year to 44 this season and they’re one of just five teams with wins over Cleveland and Golden State in the regular season, but their effort on the defensive end of the floor has to improve, which is why we don’t see the Cavaliers losing more than two games in this series. The Pistons played extremely well in Game 1 and almost won, but Game 2 proved that LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are on fire, and that when J.R. Smith is shooting the lights out they’re unbeatable.
The Cavs will probably battle the Hawks in the second round, which would be an intriguing matchup since it’s a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals (Cleveland swept Atlanta 4-0). Both teams are peaking, but the Cavaliers won the season series 3-0, giving them a 7-0 record in their last seven games against the Hawks. This year Atlanta won’t get swept by Cleveland, they will be a tough out and take two or three games from them, but that’s it, the Cavaliers will reach the Conference Finals.
Eastern Conference Finals
The Heat can get to the Conference Finals and make noise against the Cavaliers. Miami leads their first round series with Charlotte 2-0 and then they will play Toronto or Indiana in the second round. The Raptors and Pacers have talented rosters but they’re beatable opponents for the Heat.
Miami’s explosive offense can take care of business in a potential seven-game series with former teammate LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The Heat won the season series 2-1, dominating the Cavs in the two games at American Airlines Arena. The starting five of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside and a deep bench makes Miami the ideal candidate to neutralize the Cavs’ main weapons and find a way keep up with them on offense. Don’t forget that Chris Bosh could return… If Bosh is available for a series against Cleveland, many would say look for Miami to advance in seven games.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have looked fairly dominant in their first round series against the Rockets despite not having Stephen Curry in Game 2 due to an ankle sprain he suffered in Game 1. Curry’s MRI on his ankle on Tuesday didn’t reveal anything unusual, but he won’t rush back. He missed Game 3, and the Rockets lost on a late jumper by James Harden. With or without Curry the Rockets don’t have a chance. The talent is there but Houston hasn’t shown the drive to compete with Golden State. On paper, their team is stacked, but the Rockets can’t keep up with a Warriors team that is well-coached, with everyone understanding their role and playing it to perfection.
Golden State could face the Clippers in the second round and renew their exciting rivalry. The Warriors dominated them this season, winning all four meetings, but this Los Angeles team is healthy and the return of Blake Griffin gives them a fighting chance. These two teams have deep benches, experienced head coaches and the Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul matchup is always fun to watch. The question is, will Curry be 100 percent healthy? Curry’s status can change the outcome of this series, but even if he plays, the Clippers will not go down without a fight. The Warriors will advance if Curry is at the top of his game but the series will be a lot closer than expected.
Western Conference Finals
The San Antonio Spurs going up against the Golden State Warriors would have been the perfect NBA Finals matchup. Sadly, only one of them can represent the Western Conference but both deserve to play at such a stage. At least we will probably see them play each other in what promises to be an epic series that could go to seven games. Golden State won the season series 3-1 but the Spurs are built to win in the playoffs, they know what it takes to thrive at this stage. That being said, unless Curry or Thompson miss this series, the Warriors will reach the NBA Finals again and the Miami Heat will be their opponents this time around.