The Golden State Warriors are a perfect 12-0 in the playoffs, they have home-court advantage in the NBA Finals, and they are seeking to exact revenge on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. For those reasons and more – including Kevin Durant’s relentless pursuit of his first NBA title – many people see the Warriors as overwhelming Finals favorites against Cleveland.
Eddie Johnson does not.
“No, not at all,” the former NBA player and current NBA analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I’m not an analytical-type guy. I’m sorry. I came into the NBA in ’81. The basic stats was enough for me, and I leaned a lot on my eyes and my feel. For me, I’m having a hard time because when I came up with my prediction, I started reading all these articles and everyone was saying that the Warriors are going to win in five (or) they might win in four. I’m like, ‘Really? I’m not seeing it.’ I’m not seeing it like they’re seeing it.”
The Warriors have gone unchallenged in the playoffs, winning 10 of their 12 games by double digits, including eight of their last nine. The only game decided by single digits came in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio – when the Warriors scored 71 second-half points and overcame a 25-point deficit.
“Yeah, I’m seeing the fact that the Warriors are a machine offensively,” Johnson said. “But I’m also seeing the Cavaliers as a team that solved them – over the last two years, really. Even in the year that the Warriors won the title, if the Cavs had been a little bit more healthy, who knows what would have happened? They were up 2-1 in that series.”
Injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, however, doomed the Cavs in 2015. Looking ahead to this series, the Warriors have four star players to the Cavs’ three, but Cleveland, Johnson said, has better depth.
“I want to see if Ian Clark can step up and do what he can do,” Johnson said. “I want to see if Zaza (Pachulia) or David West, who’s never been there, can do it. I want to see if JaVale McGee doesn’t have a meltdown. These guys have never been there. So for me, you look at the Cavaliers, their veterans are experienced. That’s why I think the Cavs can turn this thing around just based on (their depth). I, quite frankly, think that the top players are going to square off and equal the thing up. I feel like it’s going to come from the others, and the Cavs’ experience could pay off.”
Not only does Johnson believe the Finals will be a long series, but he also thinks the Cavs will win it. He’s taking Cleveland in six.
“That’s the only chance they got,” he said. “They’re not going to win in seven. They’re not going to do it two years in a row and win on someone’s court. Won’t happen. Won’t happen.”