The Golden State Warriors have won 27 of their last 28 games and have beaten opponents by an average of 16.3 points per game in the playoffs, during which they are 12-0. Thus, it’s not surprising that the Warriors are favored to beat Cleveland in the 2017 NBA Finals and win their second championship in three years.
But what if Kevin Durant was not on this team? Would the Warriors still be favored?
“No, I would not have (picked them) – and I actually picked Cleveland to win before the season started, and I still think that they’re going to win the series,” NBA-TV analyst Greg Anthony said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I don’t know how, but I think they’re going to win it.”
Cleveland went 51-31 during the regular season, finishing second to Boston in the East. In the playoffs, however, the Cavs are 12-1 and beat the Raptors and Celtics by an average of 15.3 points and 25.8 points, respectively.
And yet, the Warriors are favored. That’s how good Golden State has been.
“That’s a consensus, and I get it,” Anthony said. “When you look at the firepower that they have, how good they are defensively, how sustained their consistency has been over the last three seasons, there’s no reason for them not to be the favorites. That I get. But I don’t see the overwhelming favorites. The Cavs are really good. We get caught up in their regular season a little bit, but they’re built a little differently. They had a lot of moving parts over the course of the season. If you think about the trades, the signings, the injuries, and all those things that played a big role, their team’s just built differently. But for whatever reason, they seemed to have played much better in this postseason. They’re playing with tremendous confidence.”
Especially Kevin Love, who averaged 22.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and shot 53.5 percent from three against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is the same Kevin Love who averaged 7.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and shot 20 percent from three (2-of-10) in Games 4-7 of the NBA Finals last season.
“As good as Golden State is, a team that has LeBron and Kyrie and Kevin Love playing like the Kevin Love of old, it’s hard for me to say they’re going to be an overwhelming underdog,” Anthony said, “especially having the confidence of winning it in the style and manner in which they did a season ago.”
Game 1 is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.