LUMBERTON — Local basketball coaches are all in one accord with their picks for the NBA Finals that start Thursday.
Every one of of the nine coaches that voiced their opinions on the fourth consecutive matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship think it is the Warriors’ series to win, but nearly everyone said it would be hard to count out LeBron James.
After playing against James during camps and games growing up in southern Michigan, St. Pauls girls basketball coach Mike Moses Jr., knew that there was a future for James, and that he is undoubtedly the toughest player to guard on the planet. But because of the team as a whole going against James, the St. Pauls coach is picking Golden State to win the series.
“I’ve played against him and LeBron is my guy, but let’s just be honest the Cavs stink,” Moses said. “The Warriors are going to beat the Cavs because they are a much better team.”
The well-rounded team dynamic that Golden State has, was an underlying theme for most coaches.
“They are too talented and can score in bunches,” Purnell Swett boys basketball coach Jeremy Sampson said. “Plus, they have two of the top players in the world in (Stephen) Curry and (Kevin) Durant.”
Like Sampson, recently hired Lumberton girls basketball coach Steve Sinclair agreed that the Warriors’s offense is tough to stop.
“Golden State, because of the ability they have to score in bunches,” Sinclair said. “LeBron is great, but he’s had a heavy workload and at some point he has to give out.”
Fairmont boys basketball coach Montrell McNair said the Golden State offense will help on the defensive end, an area McNair’s teams know a lot about.
“I’m going with Golden State because of their unselfishness on offense and a host of players who can make plays when they need it,” McNair said. “With this team on offense, the defense can take some chances as to doubling LeBron when necessary.”
James enters the finals leading the league in playoff scoring average this season at 34 points per game, to go along with nine boards and more than eight assists per game in his 18 games in the postseason.
That are convincing stats for the 33-year-old, but getting him some help was concerns for many coaches.
“LeBron has been amazing, but won’t be enough to overcome Golden State’s firepower,” UNCP men’s basketball coach Ben Miller said. “Draymon Green is a pretty good matchup for LeBron as well.”
Miller’s former assistant and current St. Pauls boys coach Corey Thompson nearly echoed his comments.
“Golden State in five because they have too many weapons,” Thompson said. “I love LeBron, however, he doesn’t have enough man power.”
Whether it is fire power or man power, South Robeson boys coach Ryan Bullard likes the depth that the Warriors have, and how it will out-weight what LeBron does.
“The Warriors have more talent and depth,” Bullard said. “While LeBron will get his numbers, he won’t have any help against the seasoned champs.”
Two coaches have Golden State winning, but give a blueprint for how Cleveland could pull off the win over the heavily favored Warriors.
“LeBron is nearly impossible to guard, and it depends on what his supporting cast does to help,” Lumberton boys coach Matt Hill said. “If Golden State shoots like they did last series, then the Cavs have a chance.”
UNCP women’s coach John Haskins also agreed that getting some supporting cast help could help the Cavaliers deliver a fourth ring for James.
“Probably would give Golden State the advantage just because of home court,” Haskins said. “Think that if LeBron’s teammates can make shots they will have a chance. Hard to count the King out.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.