The odds are stacked against the Cleveland in their fourth matchup against the Warriors and many pundits are looking at a mismatch, but three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen says that the series will go to at least six games.
Bowen, who’s in the country for NBA Finals viewing parties at Eastwood and at Buffalo Wild Wings in Glorietta on June 4, says that it’s he always goes with the team who won before until an opponent proves themselves capable of beating the defending champions.
“My Finals prediction is I always go with the team that won the year before and they’ll win again until someone takes it from them,” Bowen explained. “Six games, Golden State.”
But for him, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. The defensive specialist observed that both teams have a lot of factors on and off the court that can swing the game from one side to another.
“I’m not gonna go all philosophical on you about that, but I think you have two teams that can win. Both teams have to guard against certain elements of what’s transpiring now. With the Warriors, everyone’s talking about how everyone’s gonna win it all just like that. They have to guard against that. They have to tune that stuff out,” the five-time All-Defensive First Team member said.
“On the flipside, you have Cleveland, who takes on this whole role of ‘us against the world.’ Who’s gonna step with LeBron James? Is it George Hill? Is it JR Smith? Is it (Jeff) Green? Is it Tristan Thompson having an impact again? You just never know.”
Andre Iguoadala’s absence might also open up opportunities for the Cavaliers. Iguodala missed Game 1 with a leg contusion and was out for the Warriors’ last four games in the Western Conference Finals.
“You miss somebody who’s able to score, a go-to guy when he was in Philly, and a guy who understands how he can put his imprint in the game as far as defense is concerned,” he said.
Defense and paying attention to every single detail will also be key for the undermanned Cleveland. Bowen, who won all three of his titles under Gregg Popovich, noted that it’s going to be a necessary challenge for LeBron James and company to take away the Warriors’ comfort zones while getting good shots on their own.
“It’s not about scoring; it’s about how well they defend the Warriors. It’s about how well they take away what they can take away from them and that’s just being aware of guys and playing them up on the three-point line and not dropping below the three-point line,” Bowen quipped.
“It’s about paying attention to detail and late in the clock. Late in the clock situations are pivotal for both teams. Who’s shooting those shots? Are you getting good shots or are you getting desperation shots? It’s really important that you are disciplined enough to get great shots each and every time. Now you may not make ‘em, but you wanna make sure that you wanna get a great shot at the end of the clock,” he added.