On Sunday afternoon, the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first playoff series in five years with a sweep over the Boston Celtics.
Despite the success of great players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers will face a few setbacks as they aim to win the franchise’s first NBA Championship.
Forward Kevin Love will be out of the lineup for the remainder of the postseason, as he suffered a dislocated shoulder during game four. Meanwhile, J.R. Smith will be suspended for the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals because he punched Celtics forward Jae Crowder, which also occurred during game four.
Kevin Love’s spot in the lineup will be filled by Tristan Thompson, while Iman Shumpert is predicted to play for Smith during his two-game suspension.
The Cavaliers will succeed if they can continue to average 104 points per game against their second round opponent Chicago, who only averages 97 points per game. Pushing past Chicago will be a great test for the Cavaliers but remaining consistent in their usual play will be key for a second-round series victory.
The Cavaliers can capitalize on home court advantage and build off of the momentum developed in their first-round sweep of Boston while depending on their star player to push them to an NBA Championship.
— Sammantha Dellaria
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have accomplished something unique for this day and age. They’ve become America’s biggest bandwagon team, not through fancy free agent signings and unnecessary press conferences, but through the development of draft picks, an exciting style of play and a complete obliteration of the rest of the league.
They finished 67-15 and 11 games ahead of the Houston Rockets, making them powerhouses in the Wild Wild West.
I hate bandwagon teams. But I love the Warriors.
Although they are young and don’t have much playoff experience after the first round, I believe they are ready to take the championship this year.
The Splash Brothers (probable MVP Steph Curry and All-Star Klay Thompson) make up the best backcourt in the NBA. In their mid-twenties, they will be two of the best shooters of all time. You can’t stop them both, because one of them is going to be hot and making shots at all times.
But while the minute teams focus all their attention on the backcourt, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes can attack from the inside. Both can drive and shoot the three exceptionally well, and are capable of carrying the Warriors at any time.
The Warriors aren’t all offense either. Their defense ranked among the bests in the league during the regular season. They aren’t only winning; they are blowing teams out. They ranked first in the NBA in point differential.
Steph Curry will lead the Warriors to their first championship and definitely not their last.
— Brandon Wallace