As the NBA Finals start Thursday, we sampled the opinions of the various members of the Five Reasons Sports Network — because, naturally, we know better than anyone.
And, naturally, our first host didn’t really give a result.
Here you go…
Giancarlo Navas, Miami Heat Beat:
My heart is telling me Raptors in 5 but my brain is saying Warriors in 7, it’s a huge gulf so it’s probably something in-between. Raptors in 7? Can’t see them winning a closeout in Oracle (the last game that will be played in that arena), and 5 seems a bit ambitious on my part.
The Raptor defense has been incredible this post-season, but the Warriors will present more off ball movement than any other series for them. The Sixers and Bucks offense wasn’t incredibly motion and ball movement based so the question of how much the Raptors will switch off-ball screens is front and center. They have the defensive versatility to switch 1-4 and maybe even 5 on some occasions with Ibaka and Siakam if he sees time at center, which is a possibility if OG Anunoby will be back this series.
Most important in this series is the way that the Raptors defend the Draymond/Steph high screen and roll. It’s been the key to the Durant-less offense and it looked lethal against the Blazers (ranked 16th in defense for the season for what it’s worth). If Durant plays in this series it will be a far less motion based offense and more elbow and isolation sets with Siakam and Kawhi probably sharing the Durant responsibility. I also feel this will oddly be the best series for Lowry, he will have the most space to operate against a small Warrior team unlike the giant Bucks and Sixer teams and it will be empirically the worst defense he will have seen these playoffs (Orlando was a top 10 defense this year!!!!). Look for a healthy dose of pick and roll for Kyle as the ball handler and screener. Klay will likely see the most time on him so Steph can’t be so easily put in pick and roll, he will likely be hidden on Danny Green who has been cold all post season. Similar to the Sixer series where they got away with leaving JJ Redick on him. Danny Green will be able to shoot over Curry so easily so if he gets going and Steph has to be moved onto Kyle that will change things dramatically.
Alex Toledo, Miami Heat Beat:
As much as I want to go with the Raptors here, can’t say I believe the Warriors are losing until I see it. They also need to be the best version of themselves on the offensive end, which is gonna be tough considering Boogie Cousins is active for Game 1 and KD might be returning later in the series. The Raptors’ brilliant defensive scheme is what really gives them a shot, but the Warriors simply will have too many weapons for the Raptors to try and contain. Warriors in 6
Ricardo Montes de Oca, Cinco Razones:
Warriors in 5.
Yes, Kawhi is the best player in the world right now. Yes, the Raptors story is refreshing. And yet the Warriors, probably without one of the best player in this generation and with one of the starters with little minutes, are going to have an easy path for a three-peat. I cannot see Lowry and Gasol having a good series and I am giving one game to the Raptors, just because they have Kawhi.
Jeremy Tache, Swings & Mishes:
In what world would I pick against the Warriors? I just…I can’t imagine that team losing 4 of their next 7 games after what I saw from them against the Blazers. While I think the Raptors are better than some might, and I believe Siakam and Lowry will outperform expectations, Curry and co. will be too much to handle. Yay for dynasties.
Alejandro Villegas, Cinco Razones:
I think the Golden State Warriors will take it in six games, even though they´re probably not going to have Kevin Durant at all for the series. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors are going to make it interesting and give us a better NBA Finals than what we had last year, but I don´t see the Raptors winning four times against this Golden State team.
Chris Wittyngham, Five Reasons flagship:
Warriors in 4. I think Giancarlo is going to occupy my “I think this series is closer than you think” corner. So I’m going the exact opposite end of the spectrum. As a basketball public, we spend a lot of time talking ourselves into competitors. For LeBron in the East. For the Warriors. Sometimes, there are no peers for the greats. This Golden State team is one of them. Sweep
Alfredo Arteaga, 3 Yards Per Carry
The Raptors genuinely have one of the better teams to face Golden State by eastern conference standards, and might have the best player in the series. In the end, the greatest team of a generation has the experience and the collective will to impose their game on this series. Intangibles such as experience tend to matter much more in the championship rounds. Kawhi and a good Toronto team make it interesting, but fall short of a 7th game.
Warriors in 6.
Josh Houtz, Fantasy On 5:
I’d be lying if I said I let the outcome of a basketball ruin my day. Truth is, I have not cared much about the sport since Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Muggsey Bogues played for the Charlotte Hornets. So it’s been awhile.
With all that said, I have watched more basketball over the last two months than I have in the last three years combined. And although the Golden State Warriors have reached Brady and the Patriots level of hatred, it’s still not the same.
However, my Finals prediction isn’t the same either. And while so many are taking the Warriors to win the series, I’m not. Instead, I’m going with the King of the North and NBA MVP Kawhi Leondard. He’s the best player on the court in these finals and when the dust settles, he will be the one holding up the, *googles NBA trophy name* Larry O’Brien trophy?
Raptors in 6
Greg Sylvander, Miami Heat Beat:
Warriors in 6
Steph Curry Finals MVP