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Golden State Favored to Repeat, But They Are Not Invincible

By Doug Upstone

While Golden State are satisfied to have won the NBA championship after blowing it the year before, you have to wonder if they think like us and would wonder, not today or even in a month, how close they were to being three-peat champions.

Some sportsbooks have already posted NBA futures odds for next season and Golden State is a rather prohibitive favorite at this time at -220, compared to the second choice Cleveland at +330.

When looking at the NBA, it is a terrible league in terms of competitiveness. A few seasons ago the Western Conference was stacked, but those days are gone and the Eastern Conference has been ruled by whatever team LeBron James has played on the last seven seasons.

What, if anything, can an opposing team do to stop Golden State?

Slow the Warriors Down and Make Them Play Defense

In the history of the NBA, there might not be a team that can skillfully move the ball up the court and score quickly like Golden State. As a group, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have the ability to push the ball with the dribble or pass and each has exceptional court vision. Adding Kevin Durant just made the Warriors that much stronger. Who can stop a 7-footer coming down on wing and block a three-point shot attempt?

Cleveland has been built to score with Golden State. While the Cavaliers have defensive flaws, where they excel is creating mistakes by being in the passing lanes, and as we have seen in The Finals the last few years, the Warriors can be too casual with ball and Cleveland has the quickness to create steals and convert swiftly on the other end.

However, as San Antonio, Utah and Milwaukee have shown, defense, more than offense is the way to matchup with Steve Kerr's crew.

The idea is to make Golden State use as much of the shot clock as possible. All three teams have length and quickness to stay up on the Warriors shooters (except for Durant) and do a good job on recovery or help defense.

On the other end of the floor, Kerr has gotten this group to be excellent on defense, both individually and team-wise. Where their weakness is playing defense for 20 seconds and boxing out when a shot goes up. The three teams mentioned, plus Boston, have concepts that involve ball movement and less isolation plays, which could force Golden State to play defense longer.

Does this make the Warriors more vulnerable in seven-game series? Possibly, yet with the talent they have, the task is still very tall.

Don't Be Fooled, Durant Was the Difference

Forget Game 4 of The Finals when Cleveland went other-worldly in shooting the rock. In games 3 and 5, the Cavaliers were in position to win either contest, particular Game 3 where they crumbled. Do you think LeBron always gets a pass?

In the last four games, the Cavs average 120.7 points a game and won once (2-2 ATS). Against any other team in the league, Cleveland would be hoisting "The Larry" (slang term in the NBA for the championship trophy named after former commissioner Larry O'Brien).

The difference was Durant, and he would have been the difference in the 2016 Finals if he was with Golden State.

With the Warriors four stars still in their 20's, unless they are stripped of their best bench players or have injuries, it’s hard not to back them again. Nevertheless, opposing teams have to rethink how to play this team if they want to knock off the champs. 

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