I hate to say it, and not because I hate them, but because I think I was flat out wrong.
After watching Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday when the San Antonio Spurs visited the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena it became painfully obvious to me who was going to win the 2017 NBA Title.
The Spurs amassed a 25-point lead on the road and then it ALL fell apart when Kawhi Leonard left the game less than 4 minutes into the third quarter after rolling his already injured left ankle TWICE.
Golden State responded with an 18-0 run thanks to some Stephen Curry heroics. Curry had 19-points in the quarter. The Warriors went on to win 113-111.
Leonard finished with 26-points in just under 24 minutes of action. Without him on the floor, San Antonio will put up a fight but they are a shell of the dominant team we’ve seen in recent years.
The Spurs are already missing former Finals MVP Tony Parker. Parker ruptured his quadriceps tendon in his left leg during Game 2 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Houston Rockets. He underwent successful surgery on May 5th and could miss as much as 8-months.
Leonard already missed Game-6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals when the Spurs closed out the series on the road against the Rockets. It was said he was able to play but Gregg Popovich chose to hold him out to play it safe. It worked out…until today when he re-rolled the same ankle twice.
Seeing Golden State get buried early on their home court against a Spurs team already playing without Parker then barely manage to come back tp get the win made me realize one thing…
I was horribly wrong about the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I spent much of the last two months of the regular when the Cavs looked awful saying I was concerned about their chances of securing their second straight NBA Title. Then the playoffs started and Cleveland kicked it into an entirely different gear. As they always do. I should have known better.
They are currently home resting thanks to a clean sweep in both their first and second round series against the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors. They await the winner of the Celtics-Wizards series. Game 7 is scheduled Monday May 15th.
Washington and Boston have spent the past 6 games running each other into the ground. Cleveland is sitting back enjoying the fruits of their labors and rare rest in the playoffs.
With the potential for Kawhi Leonard to miss more time with that lingering ankle injury I still believe we will see a 3rd straight Warriors-Cavs matchup in the Finals. But after what I saw today in Oakland, I have serious doubts that the Warriors will be able to beat the Cavs in a 7-game series.
So I’m calling it now…I was wrong.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James will be your 2016-17 NBA Champions.