After a long season, and what has at times felt like an even longer playoff run, we’re back once again to find out who will win the 2018 NBA Finals. As it has been for the last four years now, the matchup is between two NBA heavyweights: the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.Whichever side you’re on, it is sure to be an exciting series regardless of whether you watch on your TV or other devices.
Wait, it’s the Warriors and Cavaliers again?
Despite the best efforts of promising teams like the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, the Warriors and Cavaliers managed to pull it off once again. Some fans are tired of the same matchup every year, but there are plenty of reasons why these two teams keep coming back.Though the Warriors were favored to win at the beginning of the season, they had some rocky stints this year, raising the question of whether they could return to the NBA Finals. Injuries caused two-time MVP Stephen Curry to play in only 51 of 82 games this season. The Rockets, their biggest threat on the road to the finals, managed to capture the number 1 seed in the West. But behind the consistency of Kevin Durant, the lock-down defense of Draymond Green and some dramatic postseason efforts from both Klay Thompson and Curry, the Warriors showed they could still move the ball, find open looks and beat Houston in their own house for the crucial game seven victory.
The Cavaliers were seen as an even longer shot at making the NBA Finals. After trading away All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics and in return getting Isiah Thomas, who wouldn’t play until January because of injuries, the outlook was surprisingly bleak. But when you have arguably the best player in NBA history, it became impossible to rule the Cavaliers out. The Celtics were favored to win the series against the Cavs with home court advantage, but Lebron would pull through in the end after a seven-game series.Though the Warriors are heavily favored to win, these teams know each other very well, and as we learned in the 2016 matchup between these two teams, anything can happen.Oh, it’s these two again.
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET
Why should I root for the Warriors?
For years the Warriors almost never even got to the playoffs, much less the NBA Finals. In fact, when they won the championship in 2015, it had been 40 years since they their last NBA Finals appearance. The team’s ascent began after drafting Stephen Curry in 2011, with the team making a number of keen draft, trade and development choices that turned them from a laughingstock to a powerhouse. Even though they’ve been dominant for years, it took a ton of work to get there, which could warrant your fandom. The Warriors also play fantastic team basketball. Even with four All-Stars in the starting lineup, every one of them has demonstrated an ability to either take over a game or play effective, unselfish basketball. If you enjoy seeing efficient, finely-tuned favorites, this is the team to back.
Why should I root for the Cavaliers?
If you like watching the best all-around player in basketball, look no further that Lebron James. He can do everything. He’ll pass, shoot, block, defend and dunk and he’s consistent from game to game. And in the playoffs, he takes it to an entirely different level, averaging nearly a triple-double a game, justifying why he’s known as The King. The team also has backing talent with the sharp-shooting Kyle Korver and streaky J.R. Smith. Though Smith isn’t consistent, when he gets hot, he can take over a game with a rain of three-pointers even the Splash Brothers would envy. The fact is, though they made it this far, these guys are the underdogs going into this series and not everybody loves that Durant joined up with an already-stacked team last year. If you like Lebron or just want to see the favorites go down, the Cavs are who you should be rooting for.
How can I watch it as a cord-cutter?
Start looking immediately for sports bars in your area that will be showing the game or bug your friend that hasn’t cut the cord. But if neither of those are an option, there are some options you can take to stream the NBA Finals without a giant sports cable package.
Which NBA social accounts should I follow?
Follow the team Twitter accounts, which are @warriors and @cavs. Those accounts will get you team-specific video highlights, commentary and stats during the game and a fan-centric experience. There are also great fan accounts with tons of original content like Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) for the Warriors or FearTheSword (@FearTheSword) for the Cavaliers.During the regular season, you can follow players for their unique perspective on playing pro basketball, but during the playoffs and championship, many players avoid social media in order to concentrate on the game. For example, Lebron James (@KingJames) hasn’t tweeted since April 14 and Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) hasn’t since April 18. For a couple guys that are a little more likely to tweet, try J.R. Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) from the Cavaliers or Javale McGee (@JaValeMcGee) from the Warriors.This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET
Where should I go for NBA Finals recaps and analysis?
For finals recaps and analysis, you could watch the commentary on television after the game, obviously, but there are a few more places that might be more to your speed.
For analysis from longtime fans, hit up those same fan community sites like Golden State of Mind or FearTheSword. While you’ll get the general overview from the telecast, these sites are where you’ll find in-depth analysis from fans like you. If you’re a regular fan of the team, you can also join up and take part in extensive discussions during these finals, the upcoming off-season, and into the regular season next year and beyond.To get involved with the most heated commentary from the NBA community, try r/NBA or r/NBADiscussion on Reddit. Reddit also has team-specific subreddits with r/Warriors for the Warriors and r/ClevelandCavs/ for the Cavaliers. The beauty of Reddit is you can always jump in game threads, catch up with the latest memes and post-game analysis without actually having to contribute. Lurking has its benefits!
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