The Finals matchup everyone waited for

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The Finals matchup everyone waited for

Mike Flores, Sports Editor

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One day I’m going to be telling my future kids about one of the most epic rivalries in all of sports, the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams are just days away from matching up in the NBA Finals for a record third year in a row.

As a sports fan, myself and many others have been starving for a rivalry to brew up in the sports world.

In football, all-time greats like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning shared some great duels, but they never played in the Super Bowl because both their teams played in the same conference–American Football Conference (AFC). That’s what separates this Warriors-Cavaliers Finals; one team hailing from the east and the other one from the west, the winner takes home the trophy.

In boxing, Floyd Mayweather ducked Manny Pacquiao in his prime years. It wasn’t until Pacquiao aged and lost a step that Mayweather finally came to terms with the long-overdue bout. Needless to say, boxing fans were robbed of a rivalry that never lived up to its expectations.

Former Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Cleveland’s LeBron James never got the opportunity to compete in the Finals, even though the last 10 Finals have included either Bryant or James.

You get the point.

But the Cavaliers and the Warriors have all the marbles on the line. It’s this generation’s ShowTime Lakers, led by Magic Johnson, going up against Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics in the 80’s.

SportsCenter can’t get enough of the memories and stories those two franchises produced during their rivalry. I expect the same kind of treatment for the Cavaliers and Warriors down the line, and we are in the middle of it.

Yes, I compared this to the Celtics-Lakers meetings of the past, and here is why. The Warriors have the most wins in a three-year span in NBA history (207 wins). Neither of those Celtics or Lakers teams can say that. Also, the Warriors are home to the only unanimous MVP winner ever in Stephen Curry, again only Golden State can claim to that.

For the Cavs, LeBron James is seeking to add more accolades to his already impressive 14-year NBA career. James has stated that he is chasing Michael Jordan to dethrone him for the greatest player to ever live. These Finals could tighten up the “who is the best player ever” debates for James supporters.

The 2017 NBA Finals will be loaded with star power on every inch of the hardwood. James is set to go head-to-head with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving—the player that made the big shot to ruin the Warriors’ hopes of a second title in a row—going up against the greatest three-point shooter ever in Stephen Curry, Kevin Love against the Warriors’ defensive player of the year candidate Draymond Green and J.R Smith trying to keep up with the other splash brother in Klay Thompson.

To make things even more intriguing, both of these title contenders don’t like each other. In last year’s finals, Green called James a “bitch”, and Thompson took a shot at James in the postgame press conference saying that James’ feelings got hurt and it was a man’s league, claiming James couldn’t handle the heat. But James had the last laugh. At James’ halloween party, he had some decorations making fun of the Warriors from last year’s finals. Some of the decorations said “3-1 lead”, aiming at the Warriors failure to close out the Cavs last year after the commanding lead, and the cookies at the party were shaped in tombstones and had some of the Warriors’ names on them.

Green, who is very outspoken, said “he wants to annihilate” the Cavs if they were to meet up in the finals once again, and his wish was granted with the trilogy of the rivalry.

One word—epic.

It’s that time of the year where we want to see the best players showcasing their skills in the last series of the NBA season. Durant is new to the rivalry, but he brings so much more to the table than Harrison Barnes ever did. If anyone would prefer seeing Barnes suited up instead of Durant, I don’t know them.

Durant did make the western conference weaker with his departure from Oklahoma City, and he took away a series fans always looked forward to—when the Warriors and Thunder would go at it–but in the bigger picture, Durant made this year’s Finals one of the most anticipated matchups in NBA history.

Two seasons ago, the Cavaliers were without two of their top three players (Irving and Love) due to season-ending injuries. The Warriors took advantage and beat Cleveland in six games.

Last season the Warriors came into the Finals exhausted after a seven-game-series against the Thunder, who led the series 3-1 after four games. It took a three-game comeback from the Warriors to overcome the Thunder. Ironically, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals that same year, but that’s another story for another time.

A lot of people believe that if Green hadn’t been suspended for game five of last year’s finals and Andrew Bogut hadn’t suffered his injury, the Warriors would have closed out the Cavs. Many unanswered questions could be answered this time around.

Contrary to the years before, this year’s Finals will consist of two fully rested and fully healthy teams ready for a heavyweight matchup, since both the Warriors and Cavs breezed their way past their conferences. These two teams did not make the NBA boring, in fact, they enhanced the NBA. Both of their roads all season led to one thing—a clash of the NBA’s elite teams.

A grudge match between Golden State and Cleveland is just flat out better than if the Spurs, Celtics, Rockets, or Wizards had made it to the big series. The ratings would have dropped like flies had that been the case.

With a Finals victory for the Cavs, LeBron would have a legitimate argument for being the greatest to ever lace them them up. He would have four championships, including beating a 73-win Warriors team and possibly taking down the greatest super team ever assembled if the Cavs were to come out on top this year.

For the Warriors, a Finals win could help mark them as on the greatest NBA dynasties, and one of the best teams to ever cross the NBA, if not the best. It could also help the Warriors get that bad taste out of their mouth from their collapse in last year’s series.

If last season’s 4-3 Finals win for the Cavs was any indicator of how this rivalry will continue—count me in.

I predict the Warriors winning in six games to reclaim the throne.

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