After a long rest the 2015 NBA Finals can begin, as game 1 takes place in the Oracle Arena, with the Golden State Warriors and the reigning MVP Stephen Curry play hosts and favorites to the Cleveland Cavaliers, hoping LeBron James is about to have a very special series.
One of the angles being played before the series is the matter of Finals experience. For James, it’s his sixth trip to the NBA Finals, which makes questions about the noise level and intensity from the Golden State fans seem irrelevant. It’s weird thinking about him as the veteran man on the court, but he really has seen it all and been through everything.
I’ve been in so many loud arenas. This is going to be one of them. I’ve played in OKC in the 2012 finals to start off the series. I’ve played in Boston. I’ve played in Detroit when they were in their heyday. I’ve played in Chicago in 2011 to open up the Eastern Conference finals. I’ve played in San Antonio. So I’ve been in some very loud buildings and this, obviously, I know tomorrow is going to be one of them. But I don’t add too much pressure on it. You just go out and you just try to play.
It’s different for the Golden State Warriors. They have a multiple-champion in their coach. But it’s been thrown in their face all through the postseason, yet it doesn’t seem like inexperience and going through certain things for the first time is hurting them. The Warriors are simply good and after all, once you take the label and shiny headlining, it’s just a basketball game.
What I really found as a player was once you get out on the floor, you just start playing and everything returns to normal. It’s still just a basketball game. But you’ve got to get to that point and the best way to do that is to try to ignore the chaos as much as you can.
Injuries is another major issue. Klay Thompson seems to have recovered from his concussion, and he will be playing. Kyrie Irving will be playing as well for the Cavaliers, but both he and David Blatt make it seem like he’s far from 100%, and will simply be out there trying to make some sort of positive difference, and hoping he can last an entire series.
Kevin Love? That’s old history. The Cavaliers have been through these playoffs mostly without him, and he’s not coming back, so it doesn’t really matter now. It’ll be about Tristan Thompson and what he can do under the boards on both ends of the floor, and for the shooting of Smith, Shumpert, James and others from the bench to make up for what they lose in Love not playing.
The Warriors have the stronger team but since the Cavs’ turnaround after 39 games they’ve actually been the slightly better team, at least statistically. We’ll learn soon enough if it mostly had to do with facing weak competition in the East, or are they truly a special team with a very special player leading them, on their way to upset a team that’s been ahead of the pack for pretty much the entire season.