I think the 2016-17 NBA season will end with a Warriors vs. Cavaliers clash for a third time in a row.
Throughout sports, we’ve seen many instances where two teams played each other for the championship two years in a row. However, it’s very seldom we see them pull off the trifecta.
When it comes to the NBA, it has never happened. Even those great Lakers and Celtics teams of the 60s and 70s never met in the finals three straight years.
Well, there is a first time for everything. I think the 2016-17 NBA season will end with a Warriors vs. Cavaliers clash for a third time in a row.
I really tried to avoid this conclusion.
Any time I make predictions, I try to stray away from chalk. I like to go out on a limb and away from popular consensus.
Besides, the odds are against the Warriors and Cavs. There is a good reason why we’ve never seen the same two teams make the finals for three straight years: it’s brutally tough.
Yes, I looked for alternatives, but they just weren’t there.
Who can you legitimately say is going to beat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference playoffs?
Cleveland is loaded. They virtually bring back their entire roster from a team that only lost two games on their road to the finals, and then overcame a 3-1 deficit for the first time in NBA history to win the title.
Stephen Curry looked like he was on his way to dethroning the king, but LeBron James clearly re-established himself as the best player on the planet last summer. As long as the Cavs have that guy, they’re the prohibitive favorites.
The Hornets, Raptors and Celtics all have good young teams, but they won’t beat the Cavs in a four-game series.
The Bulls made a lot of noise during the offseason.
They drafted talented Michigan State rookie Denzel Valentine and added Chicago native Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo to join Jimmy Butler.
If this was 2010, they would instantly become a threat to the Cavs, but Wade and Rondo’s best years are behind them.
The Knicks added former Bulls Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and former Buck All-Star Brandon Jennings to a lineup that already featured Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
It sounds amazing on paper, but there are too many question marks.
Can Rose actually stay healthy? Brandon Jennings only played a grand total of 89 games the past three years. Can he stay healthy? Can Anthony distribute the ball with so many other superstars on the roster?
Those are too many unknowns for me.
As for the Western Conference, I can’t see anyone beating the Warriors.
The Spurs have lost Tim Duncan to retirement and added another aging big man in Pau Gasol to replace him. Meanwhile, both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili remain in the twilight of their careers.
The Mavericks added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors, but like the Spurs, much of their success hinges on older stars like Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams.
I made the mistake of picking the Clippers to win the Western Conference last year. I’m not making that mistake again. Los Angeles continues to find ways to disappoint each season.
The Thunder was the Warriors greatest competition last year. They actually led, 3-1, in the Western Conference Finals before blowing it.
They’ll be one of the leading contenders again this season. But if they couldn’t beat Golden State with Kevin Durant, how do they expect to beat them without him?
To make it even worse, Durant is now with the Warriors. Victor Oladipo is a good player, but he will never be able to fill Durant’s shoes in Oklahoma City.
Low key, the loss of Bogut will hurt Golden State. Remember, when Bogut went down in the finals, that’s when the Cavs took command of the series.
However, adding Durant will go a long way in remedying that.
The Warriors return almost everybody from a team that set a new NBA record for most wins in a regular season with 73.
Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston all return. Now, they add Durant—a guy that averaged 28 points a game last season. It’s hard to see them not winning the NBA title this year—at least, on paper.