While the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James, the majority of experts are picking Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals.
Out of a pool of 61 experts from around the NBA media world, 50 believe the Warriors will win, compared to only 11 who believe the Cavaliers will pull off the upset. Here’s how the 61 picks broke down:
- 22 out of 61: Warriors in 6 games
- 17 of 61: Warriors in 7
- 11 of 61: Warriors in 5
- 8 of 61: Cavs in 6
- 3 of 61: Cavs in 7
The picks we used are from Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, Grantland, NBA TV, ProBasketballTalk, the New York Post, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, TNT, USA Today, and Yahoo! Sports.
In his NBA Finals prediction, ESPN’s J.A. Adande writes that he’s learned his lesson to always pick the best team rather than the best player, after mistakenly picking Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers over the more complete and well-rounded Boston Celtics back in 2008:
“After I and so many of my media colleagues went with the hot hand and picked Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to beat the Celtics in 2008, Scalabrine strolled into the interview room and chastised us after the Celtics’ Game 6 triumph…’We won 66 games, we had the best defence in the NBA,’ he reminded all of the failed prognosticators. ‘I just didn’t see it.’ The Warriors won 67 games, they had the best defence in the NBA. I can see clearly now. Warriors in seven.”
Like Adande, the majority of experts predicting a Golden State victory don’t see them winning the series easily. Not a single expert picking the Warriors believe they will win in a sweep. In fact, 39 of the 50 experts picking Golden State predict they will need at least six games to down the Cavaliers. All 11 experts who are picking the Cavaliers also believe the series will go to at least six games.
One such expert is Hall of Famer and Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley. Barkley went on ESPN radio Monday and told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd he’s picking the Cavaliers in six due to, not just the play of LeBron James, but, the play of two of the Cavalier’s key role players — Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith:
“I always say you have to have two things to win a championship. You have to have a star, which LeBron is, and you have to have a crazy person — and the Cavaliers have two of them, Shumpert and J.R. Smith. And I think those guys are going to play great… They’re going to rise to the occasion.”
Game 1 is Thursday at 9 p.m. eastern time.
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