It’s time! The 2019 NBA Finals are here. And with a slightly new cast –the Warriors and the Cavaliers have squared off so many times by now it will be a fresh experience to see something else. This year LeBron left to the West conference (and didn’t even make it to the playoffs) leaving the floor open to new contenders. Boston was the favorite going into the season and held ground for quite a while, but stumbled mightily in the end. The Sixers was in the mix for a long time and got better mid season through the trades of Butler, Harris and Boban! Well, maybe not Boban so much, but we still love him. However, the Sixers where not up for the task either. Then there was the Bucks who ended with the best record in the NBA – granted by playing in the East – but Giannis had a monster year and a fantastic playoff run …. Until the conference final where he disappeared. And the Bucks fell short.
Instead the Warriors will this year face the Toronto Raptors. Making their first appearance in the NBA Finals. Toronto was excellent last year, but for unknown reasons fired their head coach, who was also coach of the year. Then traded one of their key players – DeMar DeRozan, who was promised a week earlier that he wouldn’t be traded – for San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. Who quite contrary wanted a trade, but not to Toronto. So for a while we had two players who were both very unhappy where they ended up. But Kawhi being the professional he is, did his job. And what a job! His playing throughout the playoffs and more particularly in the conference finals has been nothing short of spectacular. I know it is a team effort, but he really carried this team.
As for the Warriors, we kind of expected them back in the finals. When 4 of your starters are all starts you are expected to be in the finals. The West is however the West and there were several other contenders. The Nuggets was perhaps the biggest surprise and finished with the second best record in the west, but lost to the Trailblazers in the semifinals. The Trailblazers finished third in the regular season, but had nothing left to give in the conference finals, where they were swept by a Durant-less Warriors team. Most exciting was probably the Warriors-Rockets series. Harden has had a fantastic year and is virtually unstoppable when playing well, but the Rockets did not have enough of what it takes to bring down the Warriors. At least not this year.
So there it is – The San Francisco Warriors versus the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals. Warriors have played the finals the last 4 years(!) and won three of them, including the last two. The Raptors have never been in the finals. Guess who is the underdog?
If Kevin Durant makes it back on the court they are obviously heavy favorites. If he doesn’t they still are, but not as clear. But the Warriors have so much fire power and so many good players that also played together for a while that they are very hard to beat. Having said that, they have not been as impressive this year as the last two, including the playoffs. And we have seen in previous years that both Curry and Thompson can go ice cold.
The Raptors are more of a question mark in terms as how far they can go. They do however have home court advantage and given that Toronto and Oracle arena are two of the loudest venues there is, home court will be important. If Kawhi plays like he did in the conference finals, if he also gets some help from Kyle and Gasol scoring, if VanFleet continues to drain threes and if Danny Green finds his stroke, this can be an even series.
I’d still say Warriors in six!
Which also means we will have the world’s first Swedish NBA Champion ever. That is huge in itself. Go Jonas!
Oh – one last thing. I trust you didn’t miss there is a Finals Sale with 20% off on selected items?