NBA Finals 2015: Cavaliers vs. Warriors Game 1 Review And Prediction

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is expected to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s doing well,” Kerr said after the Warriors practiced Saturday. “There’s sort of a progression of tests that he has to go through for NBA protocol, league protocol. But he’s going through that process.” Thompson suffered a concussion when he took a knee to the head Wednesday in Golden State’s clinching win over the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. The Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday to start the Finals. There will be plenty of intriguing individual matchups to study in the week of waiting, but the most interesting thing to ponder is how Golden State will defend James.

The Warriors are known for 3-pointers, but teams have quickly found out that a defensive core of Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Thompson can be just as intimidating as the team’s offense. Green had the best defensive season he received more first-place awards in the voting for defensive player of the year than Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, who won it  and would seemingly be the person best suited to the task of covering James. But Coach Steve Kerr has often shaken things up defensively and could presumably use any one of his top defenders in that role to see who is most effective. On the other side of the ball, the Cavaliers’ best perimeter defenders are Iman Shumpert and James, who will have their hands full trying to slow down Curry and Thompson, especially after Curry is able to rest his sore elbow for a week. Thompson will also benefit from the break after sustaining a cut in his right ear in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals when he was inadvertently struck in the head by a leaping Trevor Ariza. Thompson, who required stitches, did not return to the game and appeared to have concussion symptoms afterward. To play again, he will need to pass the N.B.A.’s concussion protocol. Each team has big rim protectors under the hoop. Each has plenty of players who shoot often, and effectively, from outside. And with James and Curry, each has a player capable of taking over a game regardless of the opponent. Although they are in their rookies seasons as N.B.A. coaches, Kerr and Cleveland’s David Blatt are noted tinkerers who will undoubtedly spend the layoff trying to find advantages to exploit while the basketball world endures a week of the same questions from reporters and the same answers from players. We will all just have to hope that Riley Curry, Stephen’s daughter and news conference companion, will be ready for all the attention.
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