With 30 NBA teams ready to restock through the draft and free agency, it’s time to look at teams that are most likely to improve and reach the ultimate goal, the NBA Finals. The most likely Finals match-ups are listed here, along with a prediction as to how the series (multiple) will go. In terms of a deal that makes the Cavaliers better, like a Jimmy Butler or Paul George deal, I would say one more game goes to the Cavs in these predictions.
This is just plain obvious. This offseason, both teams indicate that they will be better or, in any case, not get worse. They also show that there is little challenge in their respective conferences, with the teams going a combined 24-1 in the first three rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Winning is one thing, sheer dominance is another, and it is seen frequently with these two teams. Same matchup, nearly same result, prediction: Warriors in 6.
2. San Antonio vs. Cleveland
Consider this, the Spurs held a 20+ point leads in 3 separate meetings against Golden State. Granted, the Spurs lost two of those games, one due to a Zaza Pachulia closeout on Kawhi Leonard. Also, they benefit from an unselfish veteran move from Gasol, helping them to carve out a solid supporting cast. The point here is that Gregg Popovich has a team that is ready to knock off Golden State with efficiency and defense. The Cavs will handle their East priorities without much difficulty. Prediction: Cavs in 7.
3. Houston vs. Cleveland
Again, the Warriors seem more challenged in the West than the Cavs in the East. The Rockets, this offseason, return James Harden along with key 3 & D players like Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Ryan Anderson, and Trevor Ariza. Unlike the Spurs, the Rockets are incredibly capable of beating Golden State at their own game without having the difficult task of taking them out of their easy to achieve comfort zone. A physical Cavaliers team would dominate this team that has very little inside presence. If the Rockets truly have something up their sleeve, that might change things but, for now the prediction is Cavs in 6.
4. Golden State vs. Boston
Boston has accumulated many picks and looks to acquire star talent via trade and sign Gordon Hayward. This seems not only possible, but somewhat likely. If this were to happen, Boston has a good shot to beat LeBron’s Cavs with depth and skill instead of lots of star talent, which is hard to come by. After beating LeBron, which seems like a Finals-type challenge, a larger task awaits. No explanation needed here, the prediction is Warriors in 5.
5. San Antonio vs. Boston
This would be interesting in the sense that it’s a battle of the underdogs, and they seem to be very well matched. Although this lacks immense star power, it offers a special entertainment value compared to a fourth installment of Cavs vs. Warriors. Two deep teams would collide and the prediction is Spurs in 7.
These teams can get better and challenge the Warriors, but it is true that all of these moves still leave Golden State as the most talented roster in pro basketball.