Jun 3, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during practice prior to the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 3, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during practice prior to the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After a Q+A earlier in the week that recapped the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors World team turned their attention towards the NBA Finals.

1. Both Finals teams faced easier than expected roads here due to injuries to their opponents- will each be the other’s toughest test so far?

Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91)- For Cleveland, this is undoubtedly their greatest test this postseason. Boston fell into the playoff picture in the midst of a horrific Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls were drained and hobbling and the Atlanta Hawks fell victim to a lack of bodies and elite talent. The Warriors won 67 games in a much tougher Western Conference and have beaten a multitude of stars and styles throughout the playoffs. Anthony Davis was trounced in the first round, the Grizzlies, after giving them a scare with consecutive wins, were defeated in six and the Rockets did not have the defensive acumen to contain the Warriors. The Warriors are not only more equipped to beat their opponent than the Cavaliers, but they’ve had a much more difficult path to the Finals.

-== 5 Reasons Why the Warriors Will Beat the Cavaliers ==-

Jim Del Favero (@SiliconPM)- For the Warriors, the Cavaliers are not their toughest opponent so far.  I believe the Grizzlies own that title for these playoffs.  You can say that the Cavs have the most dominant player in the league and the Warriors have not had to face someone of LeBron’s talent. They have come close, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Marc Gasol, with solid supporting casts.

Jared Williams (@jaredqwilliams)- The Cavs are like that foreign Little League team who advances to the Little League World Series, and has you wondering who exactly they beat to get there. This isn’t to say they can’t win the title, they’ve got LeBron James -the basketball equivalent of the Little Leaguer who’s actually 15, but “lost” his birth certificate and is playing with a bunch of kids who just reached puberty. The Cavs can win this series, but it is also by far their toughest test. In terms of the Warriors, it’s a less drastic step-up than Cleveland’s, yet is still their most difficult matchup. For what it’s worth, I believe a fully healthy Memphis Grizzlies team might have been more challenging than this Cavs team, but Mike Conley’s face inhibited us from knowing.

Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux)- This should be the hardest series for both teams, assuming Kyrie is healthy enough to be dangerous. Memphis, Houston and New Orleans were all quality teams but had more easily identifiable flaws and less transcendent talent. Playing without Patrick Beverley robbed the Rockets of their best Curry defender and secondary ball-handler. The Warriors are clearly Cleveland’s best opponent so far after Atlanta suffered too many injuries to be themselves.

May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts after making a shot during the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA;  Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

2. How would you defend LeBron James?

Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91)- Unless your name is Kawhi Leonard, the idea of stopping LeBron James is inconceivable. The Warriors will have to throw a multitude of bodies at James to contain such an immovable object, and those bodies will primarily be Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. The Warriors are not immune to defending larger front-courts, as they recently defeated the Memphis Grizzlies with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol at the helm. Unlike the Grizzlies, however, the Cavaliers have a multitude of shooters that can hurt the Warriors on the perimeter if left open. With this in mind, unless James is wreaking havoc with his own scoring, the Warriors should limit their doubling of James and containing those around him. The Warriors will happily let James score 30 or even 40 points if it means JR Smith, Iman Shumpert or Matthew Dellavedova have off nights. The Atlanta Hawks doubled James often because they had no singular player that could at least put a decent body on him, leaving the role players empty on scrambles and sharp passes from James. Staying in front of James with the versatility, length and strength of Barnes, Green and Iguodala will give the Warriors the best chance at limiting the 4-time MVP.

Jim Del Favero (@SiliconPM)- Draymond, Iggy, Barnes, rotate on him all the time, double him, make the rest of the Cavs beat you.  Similar to what they did with Harden, but without having to worry about Dwight Howard under the bucket.

Jared Williams (@jaredqwilliams)- I have two ideas. The first is more conventional: begin with Harrison Barnes on LBJ, end games with Draymond on LeBron, and send unpredictable doubles at the greatest small forward ever. The second approach: pray that LeBron doesn’t remember how to shoot jump shots (he’s currently shooting 17.6% on threes during the playoffs).

Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux)- LeBron is even more dangerous as a passer than as a scorer and the Cavs are full of players who can hit open shots. While not a hard and fast rule, I would have the primary assignment be single coverage with help if he got close to the restricted area. It will be a hard assignment and Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green will all take their turns but it provides the best chance to win, especially if they can combine that with an effort to make LeBron a shooter.

3. Is Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding potent enough to warrant changing Golden State’s strategy and/or substitution pattern?

Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91)- The Warriors’ strategy shouldn’t change but the substitution pattern might alter a bit with the return of Marreese Speights and the emerging contributions of Festus Ezeli. If Andrew Bogut gets into early foul trouble, we could see Ezeli as first big off the bench, which will provide Thompson with another body to try and work around for a rebound in addition to Green. While Thompson’s rebounding numbers are impressive, he hasn’t necessarily played the most formidable of front-courts in the Eastern Conference and while Thompson’s length is an advantage, Green’s physicality is enough to keep Thompson off the glass.

May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) shoots the ball against Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

May 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Del Favero (@SiliconPM)- Nope

Jared Williams (@jaredqwilliams)- I can already imagine Rich Paul (the agent of Thompson and LeBron) forwarding Cavs GM David Griffin all internet stories dedicated to Tristan Thompson, with the subject line “Give him the max?”. In all seriousness, it isn’t Thompson’s rebounding that will change the Warriors’ substitution pattern, it’s who he is paired with. If the Cavs pair Thompson with Timofey Mozgov (this happens a minimum of 16 minutes per game), the Warriors should be fine on the glass with a combination of Draymond and Bogut/Ezeli. It’s when the Cavs go small with Thompson at the five that questions begin to arise. If Kerr responds with his lineup of death (Draymond at the five), then perhaps Thompson does hurt the Warriors on the boards, but I think that is a trade-off the Warriors are willing to make considering no one can guard the lineup of death. Kerr could also respond with Ezeli at the five and Draymond at the four; this would erase any Cavs rebounding advantage, while keeping the Warriors more mobile on defense. The goods news is, Steve Kerr has an arsenal of options for any Cavs lineup.

Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux)- It probably does not change their sub patterns much but it will affect their willingness to switch. While switching a 1/4 pick and roll with Kyrie is hard enough already, putting Steph on Thompson creates very different challenges. That said, the lack of range on Tristan’s jumper means the player covering him will not be staying too far from the interior to begin with, so they will not exactly be out of position for rebounds. I also expect Coach Kerr to go small at points when the Cavaliers go big because it poses matchups that produce greater advantages for them offensively.

4. Will Klay Thompson be the second offensive force for the Warriors in this series? Is that necessary for Golden State to win the series?

Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91)- I expect a comeback series of sorts for Klay Thompson, who recently passed the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be ready to play the NBA Finals. Thompson has the prepotency to go quiet during games, either by chucking up ill-advised shots or turning the ball over. Still, the threat of Thompson on the perimeter – as well as Curry — is what opens up other teammates to flourish. With Kyrie Irving hurting, Curry will be matched up with an already struggling defender, which might force the Cavaliers to put Irving on Thompson or even Harrison Barnes. Whether it’s Irving, Smith or Shumpert guarding Thompson, expect the other Splash Brother to make his presence known early given his ability to not only shoot but drive, create contact and find open teammates. Shumpert presents the most amount of problems for Thompson, but he’ll also share time on Curry, and asking the former Knick to shade both is asking a lot. The Warriors have shown they don’t need Thompson to have a high scoring output to win, but given the matchups, the production should be expected.

Jim Del Favero (@SiliconPM)- I think Klay wakes up and regains his form. Cavaliers don’t really have the quality perimeter defenders to cover him and they did not defend well against the 3 at all during the course of the season.  We need Klay, Harrison and Iggy to get hot from the 3 to keep the Cavs honest.

May 27, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) dunks past Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith (5) during the first half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

May 27, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Williams (@jaredqwilliams)- This question depends on the amount of carnage Steph Curry inflicts upon Kyrie Irving. If Curry forces the Cavs to abandon their plan of keeping Irving on Curry until clutch time (when LeBron will likely assume the duties), then Iman Shumpert will likely be called in as reinforcement. This would leave Klay defended by Kyrie or J.R. Smith. If this switch happens, we may get to enjoy one of humanity’s greatest pleasures: prolonged stretches where Klay doesn’t miss. If Curry does not force that switch and Klay gets stuck with Shumpert for extended periods of the game (or if JR Smith decides he is not going to ball watch on defense), then Klay may have trouble. With that said, the Warriors have proven they can win during mediocre performances from Klay.

Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux)- He should have a few strong games but offensive reliability has never exactly been Klay’s calling card. That said, Klay provides value even during his less productive nights as long as his activity level stays high because defenses have to respect his ability to score. We should not see a ton of Kyrie on Klay but LeBron could be shifted over for stretches and it will be Klay’s job to make King James work regardless of how many shots he makes during that time. Thompson scoring a ton of points is not required for Golden State to win the title but it certainly improves the margin for error.

5. Series winner, number of games and why

Jordan Ramirez (@JRAM_91)- Warriors in 6. I never thought I’d type those words out in regards to an NBA Finals prediction in my lifetime, but I’m indeed picking the Golden State Warriors to win an NBA championship. The Warriors are too deep, too sound on the defensive end and under Steve Kerr, run an offense that can hurt the opponent in a multitude of ways. The Cavaliers might have the single greatest talent the game has ever seen, but he doesn’t have formidable superstars to help him this time around. Cleveland just does not have the talent or experience to beat the Warriors four times out of seven games. Barring an injury or an emerging level of James’ greatness that has yet to be seen, Oracle Arena will be raising a championship banner.

Jim Del Favero (@SiliconPM)- Warriors in 5. They are too deep and too talented to let a Cavaliers squad without Kevin Love get past them.  They have consistently shown they can bring it vs the Cinderella Cavs players that have made a splash in the playoffs.

Jared Williams (@jaredqwilliams)- My pick, unsurprisingly, revolves around LeBron. I’ll save the “Top 5 of All-Time” debate for ESPN First Take, but we can all agree that LeBron’s a genuinely transcendent basketball player. With the scoring supernova that’s Kyrie Irving, wing tag-team of Shumpert and Smith, and board brothers Mozgov and Thompson, LeBron’s supporting cast is better than the one he possessed in Miami last year. Last year’s inferior Heat squad lost to the Spurs in five. LeBron’s improved teammates will get him to Game Six, and it’s hard to imagine the Homecoming King losing the NBA Finals in Cleveland. I’m picking Warriors in seven. Also, take a moment and try to imagine Oracle Arena during Game Seven of the NBA Finals.

Daniel Leroux (@DannyLeroux)- Warriors in 6. I expected to bounce around on this substantially more than I have during the off week but it feels right as the eventual outcome. Both teams have the talent to win on the other team’s floor and it would not surprise me at all if Cleveland took one of the first two games at Oracle. LeBron can swing a game or series by himself but the Warriors have the talent and coaching to maximize their advantages. This series will be closer than some Warriors fans think but they should still be the favorites by a respectable margin.