2015-16 NBA Finals: Spurs vs Cavs — And The Winner Is…


In a way-too-early type prediction, we try and rationalize the idea of the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the San Antonio Spurs in the 2016 NBA Finals 

Writer’s Note: This article is not about what I believe. I do not think the Cavs and Spurs will make next year’s NBA Finals. I was asked to do this by a good friend of mine — Tracy Graven (T-Money in NBA circles). He asked me to do a piece on how the Cavs can beat the Spurs in the Finals.

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Before some people get all in their feelings about the title of the post please continue reading so you will know why these two teams were selected. Don’t have a heart attack if you aren’t a fan of either team — unless you’re a Knicks or 76ers fan, then that’s a different story.

Maybe the hunger never leaves a player, maybe the losing will be a constant reminder to always stay hungry, but the wining will drive you even more. This is where LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers now stand heading into the 2015-16 NBA season.

They faced a great and complete team in the Golden State Warriors this past June, and lost in the NBA Finals — be it health reasons or the lack of a healthy roster, they still lost. During the offseason, Cleveland made the necessary moves of re-signing Kevin Love, (soon) Tristian Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov — and then adding Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson. They are easily the best team in the Eastern Conference, on paper that is.

But the question looms: Will they be able to make it back to the NBA Finals next season? Many believe that it will be the Cavs vs the San Antonio Spurs in next year’s Finals.

So here we go…

Talent-wise the Cavs should win in five games, but the playoffs are more than talent as we have seen numerous times, especially when LeBron has been on the court. Looking at the roster, both teams are pretty solid. Star-wise they are equally unique, but the Cavs have the advantage of youth while the Spurs have the necessary experience.

Who wins out– youth or experience?

It’s no secret the Spurs have been the kryptonite to LeBron’s super powers, as they have beaten him two out of three times they’ve faced off in the NBA Finals and it would have been 3-for-3 if the Spurs didn’t have a mental collapse in Game 6 (2013).

We are talking about a Cavs team that will hopefully have a healthy Love, Kyrie Irving, Mozgov, LeBron and Shumpert in the starting lineup. The bench will be anchored by 2014 playoff king Thompson and now you can throw in the dynamic Williams, Jefferson and James Jones. Not too sure what is the status of Anderson Varejao (injured) and J.R. Smith but if both are brought back, and are healthy, then they have a shot.

Despite the struggles for first-year head coach David Blatt, he still was one of two coaches left standing in the end, so you must give him credit for that. He gets another shot to see if he can manage this group again, ala Erick Spolestra in Miami when the ‘Big 3’ first got together.

But it won’t be easy if the Spurs are standing on the other side come June.

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The Spurs were active this offseason, as active as they have ever been. They were seen as the clear winners of NBA Free Agency with with one signing — prying LaMarcus Aldridge away from the Portland Trail Blazers. Aldridge and Tim Duncan will try to re-create the chemistry of Duncan and David Robinson, while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili try to reset their bodies for another championship run. Kawhi Leonard signing to a max contract was a no-brainer, as he is the future of this franchise.

The other big signing for the Spurs was that of David West. He may not be the player he was three years ago, but he will bring much needed depth to the froncourt if/when Duncan needs a rest.

With rosters set, this is how the Cavs can beat the Spurs if they were to meet up in the NBA Finals:

  • Green and Shumpert are two one-dimesional players going head-to-head. Green is the shooter while Shumpert is the defender, but I trust that Pop will have a scheme to get Green clean looks at the basket all series long.
  • Leonard and James will be the matchup to watch, as LeBron clearly has the advantage. But when Leonard is focused, and on his game, he can and will give LeBron headaches.
  • Mozgov, or whoever is in the middle for the Cavs, will be no match against Duncan. Throw as many bodies as you want against the ” Big Fundamental.” He will still outshine the competition.
  • Teams win championships, not players. Ask the Warriors and the Spurs. Love has to play out of his mind, but will have a tough matchup against Aldridge. Love is not a defensive-specialist, as he and Aldridge will cancel each other out stats-wise.
  • LeBron has to decide what type of player he wants to be. He is dominate, we all know that, but with Love and Irving at his side he doesn’t have to replicate his effort in this past year’s NBA Finals against the Warriors.
  • Parker vs Irving is not what it would have been 2-3 years ago, as Parker has lost a few steps. Irving is still young and can dominate a game by himself, but the experience that Parker possesses will have Irving on his heels throughout.
  • Pop and Blatt are on two different levels. Pop is the G.O.A.T while Blatt is Spolestra 2.0. Maybe Blatt will have success but he will have to be on his A-game to out-coach Pop in the NBA Finals, unless Pop has another brain fart and lets the series slip through his fingers again — not.

All in all, The Cavs will need to be smart, efficient and determined to beat the Spurs in this series. The Cavs frontcourt is no match for the Spurs. The guards will be the series decider, yet I still don’t think that will be enough for them.

There is no way the Cavs will beat the Spurs. Sorry, Tracy. I tried and before I wrote this I thought they had a chance, but as I begin to type I realized they are not good enough to get it done. Maybe next year when the real “Big 3” are retired.

Spurs in 6…

Next: Cavs part ways with its secret weapon -- and Mike Miller