We all remember how the Cavaliers’ championship hopes were derailed last season by injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Many will argue, and they might be right, that had Love and Irving been healthy, the Cavs would have cruised through Golden State to win their first title in franchise history.
When looking at the NBA landscape this year, there are far more daunting opponents than just the injury bug.
It’s true that for the Cavs to win the championship this year, they will need a full arsenal of superstars, but that alone is not a sure-fire guarantee that the King finally brings a ring to Cleveland.
There are a few more than worthy adversaries. First off, the defending champs: The Golden State Warriors.
Like it or not, they were the best team in the NBA last season from start to finish.
It’s no fault of their own that they did not have to overcome the adversity of losing star players and it is not fair to discredit their accomplishments simply because they stayed healthy.
The Warriors cruised through the regular season in a conference significantly better than the East, and played tougher opponents in the playoffs than anyone in the East had to face.
Head coach Steve Kerr pushed all the right buttons from October to June, including using Andre Iguodala off the bench for almost the entire regular season, which did not please the veteran small forward, to inserting him in the starting lineup as a center in the NBA Finals, which was an unorthodox, but genius move.
Golden State had the most valuable player in the league, Steph Curry and one of the best shooting guards in the league, Klay Thompson. Those two still have time left before they pass the prime years of their career, and having been battle-
tested through a difficult Western Conference gauntlet and the challenge of winning an NBA championship under their belt, they should be even more formidable this year.
It is difficult enough to win one ring and winning back-to-back is exponentially harder, but until someone dethrones them, the Warriors are the team to beat.
Aside from Golden State, the biggest threat to the Cavaliers appears to be the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs are always in the conversation with Head Coach Gregg Popovich, Future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and rising star Kawhi Leonard.
They also are loaded with talented role players. Veteran Manu Ginobli has dealt with injuries recently and may not be counted on much in the future, but the Spurs have the luxury of not needing to rely heavily on him anymore.
They are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league with sharp-shooters Danny Green and Matt Bonner
They also added free-agent acquisition David West, who would be a starting power forward for many teams throughout the NBA. West came to San Antonio at the veteran’s minimum contract to win a championship and to be “one of the guys” and not have to be a mentor/player-coach on a young, struggling team, like he was in Indiana.
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