Sports Eye

Defending titlist Warriors to win again

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

DEFENDING titlist and championship veteran Golden State Warriors and Finals greenhorn Toronto Raptors commenced their NBA title battle on May 31 (PH time) in the best-of-seven series with the Raptors hosting the first three games.

As in the past, the talk now in the sporting world especially our basketball-crazy country Philippines, bets here and there with plus points in every game heavily pick the Warriors to win the series.  Many strongly believe it could be a sweep for the west coast guys of head coach Steve Kerr but I don’t think so.  Perhaps at the very least a 4-3 for the Warriors. Most of the NBA fans I talked to here said it will be 4-1 or 4-2 for the Californians. So far no one has predicted a Raptors title victory.

The heavy betting on the Warriors is because of the depth of its lineup starred by MVP and three-point specialists Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, plus the reliable forwards Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green and the recuperated legitimate center DeMarcus Cousins. (Durant skipped the Finals first game due to injured right calf). That’s my perception, too.

Of course the tactician Kerr at the helm who aims to win his fourth title and be included in the Hall of Fame as a coach, will undoubtedly fully harness the skills and talents of his team, which I believe are really unbeatable. They have proven their superiority thrice in the NBA Finals, starting in 2015, 2017 and last year. Sans Durant and Cousins, they still swept the Portland Trailblazers to win the Western Conference Finals, their fifth consecutive en route to the Finals this year. That alone is a clear indication of the squad’s consistency, resiliency, supremacy and competency in world professional caging. Their worst debacle was in 2016 when after leading the series, 3-1, with just a win shy for the title, the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers thumped them three times straight to win the coveted crown and shocked the world. That was  one of the most unforgettable come-from-behind conquests in NBA’s championship history that I ever watched on TV.

The Raptors defeated the NBA’s top team in the regular season Milwaukee Bucks, 4-2, in the Eastern Conference Finals with its own six gems, the much-improved guards Kawhi Leonard and the elusive Kyle Lowry at the helm. Leonard and Lowry will surely be supported by Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam and Danny Green. I’m not belittling the Raptors’ four scoring machines but the Warriors’ four contributors are much better than the Raptors, man-to-man. I think the only way that Raptors could possibly upset the Warriors is their stifling defense and minimize the scoring of Curry, Thompson and Durant like what they did during this year’s regular season beating the Warriors twice. But playoffs particularly championship battles have different plays, methods and strategies especially in terms of defense. And that’s the biggest job of the coaches.

Scoring wise, the Warriors got the better edge while the level of defense on both teams I think are even.  Home court advantage will always play a major role in any NBA Finals and that’s what the Raptors got, while the championship experience is on the Warriors side. Let’s just wait and see.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. PHILIPPIANS 2: 6-7

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