As the NBA’s two Goliaths set to tip off tonight in the NBA Finals for the third meeting in as many years, the consensus among the Robeson County basketball coaches seems clear.
In the rubber match between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors that starts tonight in the best-of-seven championship series, the Warriors are the favorites among the local hoops coaches to win their second title in three years and stop the Cavaliers from going back-to-back.
Even though the predictions put out by the coaches were not unanimous, they all expect the series to last at least six games, just like the previous two meetings. A long, competitive series is something that many basketball fans are looking forward to after the two teams went a combined 24-1 through their first three series, including Lumberton boys coach Matt Hill.
Hill is going with the Warriors in seven games, but also notes that Cleveland is playing well right now. His reasoning for picking Golden State is the same as Red Springs girls coach Steve Sinclair.
They both like the “fire power” that Golden state has with the addition of Kevin Durant to a team that didn’t lack scoring fire power last year. Sinclair likes the Warriors to take the series in six games.
The addition of Durant also is why Purnell Swett boys coach Jeremy Sampson is rolling with Golden State in seven games, but not for his scoring.
“Too many scorers and Durant improved the defense,” Sampson said.
Red Springs boys coach Glenn Patterson and Lumberton girls coach Danny Graham both think the Warriors will win the series in six games.
Patterson thinks that Klay Thompson will shake off a poor showing the last few series and lift the team.
‘The last two series he has not shown up to play,” he said. “I feel this will be his time to step up and bring the championship back to Oakland.”
Graham likes the depth off the bench and the balance that Golden State has with its lineup.
Both UNCP coaches, men’s coach Ben Miller and women’s coach John Haskins are going with Golden State.
The lone outlier, St. Pauls boys coach Corey Thompson, is rolling with the Cavs to win the series in six games and give LeBron James his fourth title, still one ring behind Kobe Bryant and two behind Michael Jordan.
While James will be a focal point of the series, Thompson believes an x-factor off the bench will play a role in Cleveland’s chances to win a title.
“The difference will be the addition of Kyle Korver, with his ability to stretch the floor and open up driving lanes for LeBron and company,” he said.
A title will draw James closer to the likes of Bryant and Jordan for most all time, and in recent years the three have been on the tongues of many as to who is the greatest basketball player of all time. Everyone has their opinion on the matter, but Sinclair gave his take.
“LeBron is the most dominant player ever. He can literally change the game or make any team better,” Sinclair said. “Skill wise Jordan and Kobe are better. So in my eyes, LeBron is most dominant ever and Jordan is still 1a with Kobe 1b.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.