Between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets, who do you think the Cleveland Cavaliers will face in this year’s NBA Finals? Oh excuse me, no disrespect to the Raptors who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference at 54-19.
As good as a year the Raptors are having, no one seems to take them seriously, because of how their season has ended the past two years, with LeBron sending them home seemingly single-handedly.
In his 15th year in the league, and despite Toronto playing less iso-ball, LeBron seems like he’s still very capable of ending their season again this year, should they meet in the playoffs. Just look at his stat-line from a few days ago when they played each other. 35 points, 17 assists and zero turnovers for the first time in NBA history I might add. On top of that, they dropped 132 points on the Raptors’ head, despite the Raptors being ranked the 4th best defense in the league.
Now back to the question at hand, who do you think the Cavs will face on the biggest stage this year? First I should probably state that I’m only assuming the Cavs will make it there because despite facing struggles this season, not even the analysts we see on TV predict that any team in the East will make it past the Cavs, especially since Kyrie Irving is sidelined for 3-6 weeks as we’re heading into the playoffs.
My question is pretty easy to answer if the Warriors remain banged up as we get closer to June. The Rockets. Statistically LeBron and the Cavs would better their chances of repeating what LeBron set out to do when he first came into the league, win a championship for the city of Cleveland, Ohio.
I say that because their numbers look better against the Rockets than they do against the reigning champion Warriors.
In all fairness, the Cavs would be in trouble either way, as their always the underdogs in the Finals, when going against whoever comes out of the West. However in two meetings with each team this season, the Cavs went 0-4 against them, and even lost to the Rockets by 32 points back in February. Needless to say that’s not a sexy stat, which is why either way it won’t be easy.
Let’s get into some stats though to show why Houston will be a better bet.
In both meetings with the Rockets, the Cavs have been pretty evenly matched with them in all categories besides rebounding and bench scoring. Both teams averaged 47% shooting from the field, 36% shooting from behind the arc and dished out about 24 assists. As I mentioned the rebounds and bench scoring is what separates the two. The Rockets averaged 11 more rebounds than the Cavs, however the Cavs averaged 10 more bench points than the Rockets.
With all that being said, one thing to take into account is that both meetings with the Rockets were before the Cavs’ roster was gutted right before the trade deadline. Obviously that differentiates things.
In both meetings with the Warriors, the teams were also evenly matched, but to a lesser degree. When it came to field goal percentage and assists that’s where the teams differentiated. Both teams shot pretty low from behind the arc at 33% 3FG, which is uncharacteristic of them, since they’re both in the top 10 for 3-point field goal percentage. Both teams averaged about 55 rebounds and 24 bench points. The Cavs only shot 38% from the field to the Warriors’ 47% and averaged 19 assists to the Warriors’ 30, which they average on regular basis and lead the league by doing.
Once again, both of these matchups were before the Cavs’ roster revamping as well, but it gives you a general idea of how these matchups can be.
With all of that being said, since both teams being kind of evenly matched Cleveland will definitely have a fighting chance against either team, possibly even more so Houston since the one advantage they have against the Rockets’ is Finals experience.