The NBA Finals are upon us once again and just like last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are the last two teams standings.
The Cavaliers have looked a lot more convincing in the lead-up to the NBA Finals, but it would definitely be a mistake to underestimate the Warriors, given how dominant they have been during a record-breaking season.
While most people will be backing the Warriors to slay the Cavaliers once again, there are a number of factors that could spring a few surprises and lead to a Cavs victory.
1. Kyrie Irving is fit and healthy
Last season, the Cavaliers were dealt a huge blow when Irving suffered a fractured kneecap in Game 1 of the Finals and was forced to miss the rest of the biggest series of his career.
Things are a lot different this time around as Irving is fully fit heading into the finals and has been a big driving force for the Cavaliers in the playoffs thus far, averaging 24.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
With Irving looking as lethal as ever, the Cavaliers will be banking on the 24-year-old to take the fight to the Warriors with his sidekicks LeBron James and Kevin Love.
2. Warriors are fatigued
The Cavaliers will definitely be looking to take advantage of the fact that the Warriors are coming off an arduous and gruelling Eastern Conference Finals series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Warriors were pushed to the limit during the series and found themselves on the brink of elimination at 3-1. However, a spirited effort, led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson saw the Warriors stun the Thunder as they completed an incredible come-from-behind series win to set up a rematch with the Cavs.
The Cavaliers have had a lot more time to rest and prepare for the NBA Finals as they finished off the Toronto Raptors 4-2 on May 27. The Warriors on the other hand only have three days to recuperate until the NBA Finals get underway after their clash with the Thunder came to an end on Monday.
3. Draymond Green has not been himself
Green is known as the Warriors’ triple-double king, but the 26-year-old has registered just one triple-double since the start of the playoffs.
Furthermore, the power forward found himself in controversial situations twice during the intense series against the Thunder as he twice kicked Thunder center Steven Adams in the groin. On the second occasion, which occurred in Game 3, Green was fined $25,000 and should consider himself lucky not to have been banned.
It will be interesting to see whether Green will be affected by his dismal series against the Thunder, in which he averaged 11.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.7 blocks per game, or whether he will finally break out of his shell and transform back into the player people are accustomed to seeing.