Three Questions for the NBA Finals

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Three Questions for the NBA Finals

Photo: Sports Illustrated

Photo: Sports Illustrated

Photo: Sports Illustrated

Photo: Sports Illustrated

Colin Koot

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The NBA Finals are set.  Not surprisingly, the Golden State Warriors are there for the fifth straight year.  But it’s the team from the East that brings most of the intrigue.

The Toronto Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard, are making their first ever finals appearance.  They were the two seed in the Eastern Conference and ripped off four straight wins against the Bucks to get to this point.

In the first shakeup of the finals for four year, the Raptors look to capitalize on the possible absence of Kevin Durant, while the Warriors look to make it three straight championships and four out of five.  Here are three questions that will determine the course of the finals.

1. Will Kevin Durant Play?

Obviously this is the most important part of the series.  Without KD, Golden State is still very good, but they aren’t unbeatable.  Durant gives the Warriors a buffer zone that they sometimes need.

Having another option to rely on when Steph Curry or Klay Thompson has a bad game is something they have grown to depend on.  In a seven game series, having three superstars that can carry a team is something that makes the Warriors practically unbeatable.  The question is, will KD be able to play and effectively help the Warriors?

Durant suffered a calf strain in the Western Conference Semifinals, and has not even done on-court work with the team yet.  He has been officially ruled out for game one, but will travel with the team, leaving the door open for a possible game two appearance.

If he can make an effective appearance in the series, the Warriors will have a big advantage going forward.  KD’s health is the most crucial part of this series for both teams.

2. Can Marc Gasol Take Advantage of Golden State’s Lack of Big Men?

The Warriors reinvented basketball with their positionless philosophy based upon shooting, not big men.  If any team can give them major problems, it’s most likely going to be down low. With their lack of significant size in the post, one of the biggest questions in this series is if Marc Gasol can give Toronto crucial points down low.

In the regular season, Gasol averaged 13.6 points per game.  That has dipped to just 8.1 ppg in the postseason, but if he can get back into double digits, that could really help the Raptors.  If they are going to have an advantage anywhere on the court, it will be with Gasol.

If he can score fifteen ppg and get big offensive rebounds, then that will significantly help the Raptors and give them a shot in the series.

3. Will Kawhi be Great?

This sounds simple, but the Raptor’s hopes rest on the shoulders of the Klaw.  He has averaged 31.4 ppg in the postseason so far, and has carried them to the NBA Finals.  Kawhi is the heart and soul of a Raptors team that does not quite have another top player.

Sure, Toronto has a great bench that can put points on the board and a solid wing player in Kyle Lowry.  However, to win championships, a team really needs at least two superstars. If Kawhi can be really good, like insanely good, then he can act as two.

Draymond Green could be able to guard him, but if the Klaw is clicking, then it could spell trouble for Golden State and give Toronto a chance in the series.

Prediction

Golden State over Toronto in six games.