The Raptors, and particularly the Thunder, made things very interesting for us in the Conference Finals. But June is here and we’re exactly where we thought we’d be — preparing to watch the Warriors and Cavs square off in the NBA Finals once again.

Last year was wildly entertaining, but let’s face it, there’s more on the line for both teams this time around.

Steph and the Warriors are even better than last year, and generating some buzz as one of the greatest teams of all-time. But let’s not forget LeBron’s got a chip on his shoulder and a healthy squad finally standing behind him. Something’s got to give.

Here’s 5 reasons why neither team can afford to wind up on the wrong end of the 2016 NBA Finals.


Golden State Warriors

They Got Lucky Last Season

The Warriors are not about to start hearing this. We already know that they avoided seeing the Spurs, Clippers or Thunder last postseason, and then defeated an undermanned Cleveland team. It took every last drop in the tank to overcome OKC at full strength this season, but GSW got it done. Still, that means nothing if you don’t validate it with a win over a full strength Cleveland team.

Meaningless Strength In Numbers

You’ve seen the slogan on the t-shirts throughout the playoffs. Like any Finals contender, the Cavs are deep, but not the way the Warriors are. Golden State has too many weapons coming off the bench to allow this team to lose, no matter how rested the Cavs may be. Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala both could have been the sixth-man, and Iggy is the reigning finals MVP.

Unworthy Unanimous MVP

Steph Curry didn’t ask to be the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, but that’s exactly what he is. A lot of pressure comes with that. Forget the name of the player. If you told me Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or franchise player X never won a unanimous MVP, but this guy just did; we should hands down expect him to lead his team to a title. Going even further, not only do the Warriors have to win, but Curry needs to be the Finals MVP — he wasn’t last season and hasn’t exactly been his team’s postseason MVP thus far.

73 Wins Down The Drain

Leave the all-time talk aside for a second. What a waste of a season this would be for the Warriors. Failing to make the Finals would have been worse, but the Warriors still can’t lose this series and say that 73 wins reflects the season the team had. In fact, getting to 73 wins may have helped prevent reaching the ultimate goal of a championship.

Wave Goodbye All-Time Status

Now we get to the more important point — If the Warriors lose they’re not one of the greatest teams of all-time. You can win more games than anyone else ever has, but you can’t be in the conversation for greatest team if you don’t have a ring on your finger (from that season). It’s that simple.


Cleveland Cavaliers

Irving and Love Are Back

Cleveland had a built in excuse last season. LeBron was playing out of his mind, but with mediocre role players around him, could they really challenge the Warriors? All that talk goes out the window now. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are healthy. It’s time to put up or shut up.

LeBron Can’t Win One For The ‘Land

This would be his third try and his third time failing. LeBron wants to win a championship for Cleveland more than he wants anything in his professional career … we think. But he keeps running into the wrong team. That’s no excuse, though. A promise is a promise. LeBron promised to win a title in his hometown. But we still have to ask …

Will LeBron Leave Cleveland?

The rumors are already out that if the Cavs win the title, LeBron will have fulfilled his promise and could skip town. Who knows if that’s actually an option. But if King James falls short again, could he consider leaving for a better situation? It’d be totally uncalled for, but LeBron has proven he’s not afraid to make an unpopular decision before if he feels it’s the right choice for himself.

MVP Validation

LeBron wasn’t happy about Curry winning the MVP award, and even took a slight at Steph by essentially saying it depends how you define the award as to who the MVP should be. Well, if LeBron loses to Curry on the big stage once again, he has no argument. MVPs lead their team to championships. The definition of a MVP is not a player that’s lost the championship five times.

Michael Jordan: 6-0

Kobe Bryant: 5-2

LeBron James: 2-5

If you haven’t already figured it out,above is each player’s record in the NBA Finals. This is why LeBron simply can’t lose. If LeBron wants to be mentioned with those names as an all-timer, he needs to get the rings. “Oh he had to face the Spurs, he had to face the Warriors … “ Look, when you’re a player of his magnitude it doesn’t matter who you run into. Everyone else should be afraid to run into you.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow