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Sports Then and Now

Are the Warriors and Cavaliers on Another Collision Course?

Posted on December 17, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Though the season is less than two months old, it seems likely that Stephen Curry and LeBron James will be meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

The NBA season is less than two months old, but it already seems clear that we have a pretty good idea of where things are heading.

If you were putting down betting odds, it would be a pretty safe bet that come June, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors will be facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, but anyone who is interested in the top betting websites can click here and enter to give the online sports gaming experience a try.

After winning an NBA record 73 games a year ago, the Warriors added one of the top five players in the NBA during the offseason with the addition of Kevin Durant. After losing two of their first six games, the Warriors have lost only two more times and again have the best record in the NBA with a 23-4 mark.

Though they may not finish the season with as many regular season victories as a year ago, the Warriors are arguably a better team than a year ago. Their scoring average is up 2.4 points per contest and they are connecting on 49.4% of their field goals, compared to 48.7% a year ago.

The addition of Durant has given them a third scorer capable of posting big numbers any night. Though he is third on the team in shots attempts, Durant is leading the team in scoring at 25.5 points per contest and is second at 8.4 rebounds per contest.

Though Curry’s overall statistics are down a bit from his MVP numbers from a year ago, he is still averaging 24.9 points and 5.9 assists per contest.

While Klay Thompson’s scoring average is down slightly (from 22.1 to 21.7 ppg), his recent 60 point game is a reminder that he is an elite level scorer.

The Golden State player whose statistical numbers have taken the biggest hit following the addition of Durant is Draymond Green. Still an important player for the Warriors, his scoring has dropped from 14 to 10.8 points per game and he is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game (compared to 9.5 last season).

As was the case a year ago, the true test for the Warriors will come in the postseason. Last year they overcame Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. This year, with Durant now wearing their uniform, it appears the San Antonio Spurs will provide the biggest challenge.

Despite the retirement of Tim Duncan and continued decline of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs continue to stay near the top of the Western Conference standings. With a 21-5 record, they are right on the heels of the Warriors. Kawhi Leonard and LeMarcus Aldridge are the new 1-2 punch for the Spurs and while not as accomplished as their Golden State colleagues, they make the Spurs a dangerous opponent come playoff time.

Of course, the Spurs are not the only team that could push the Warriors as the Clipper, Rockets and Grizzlies all have as many or more wins than any team in the Eastern Conference.

In the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers appear to have a much easier road to their third straight finals. Only the Toronto Raptors with an 18-8 record appear to be a potential threat to the 18-6 Cavaliers. Behind those two are eight teams with 13 or 14 wins. While it appears unlikely that any of that pack can contend with the Cavaliers, they should provide an entertaining regular season as they compete for a spot in the playoffs.

Because they haven’t been pushed so far this year, it is harder to judge whether LeBron and the Cavaliers have what it will take to repeat as NBA Champions.

LeBron James (25.0), Kyrie Irving (23.9) and Kevin Love (22) give the Cavaliers a “big three” comparable to the Warriors, but where Cleveland appears weaker than Golden State and even San Antonio is in their other players.

J.R. Smith is fourth on the team at 8.5 points per game and he is connecting on only 32% of his field goal attempts. Tristan Thompson is averaging a career-high 10.2 points per game, but his 66 points per contest is the lowest of his career.

While certainly anything can happen over the next six months, but odds appear good that come June we will be watching the Cavaliers and Warriors looking to break their championship deadlock from the last two years.

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