The SLAM Staff Predicts The 2017 NBA Finals

Who you got?
by May 31, 2017

Ever since Kevin Durant announced that he had signed with the Golden State Warriors on July 4, 2016, the world has been patiently waiting for the inevitable Finals rematch between the two best teams in the NBA: the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The matchup has storylines galore. Can LeBron take another step toward catching Mike? Will KD get his first ring? What’s up with Steve Kerr? Will Klay Thompson shake his poor playoff performance? Can Kyrie outplay Curry for the second straight year? Does Curry have his swagger back? Has Kevin Love finally found his groove with the Cavs?

Fortunately for us, all of these questions, and more, will be answered over the next two weeks. Game 1 kicks off Thursday night at 9 p.m. EST on ABC. In the meantime, check out who we think will take home the Larry O’Brien trophy, and hit us with some predictions of your own in the comment section.

Adam Figman, Editor-in-Chief
Pick: Cavs in 7
Why? There’s no real basketball motivation behind this pick—both teams are heavyweights of such an extreme caliber in their respective conferences that we really have no idea how they’ll match up against one another over the course of a best-of-seven series. I’ll roll with Cleveland for two reasons: one, the experience that comes with maintaining essentially the same squad as last year (as opposed to the Warriors’ new, KD-enhanced look), and two, the sheer brilliance of you know who.

Susan Price Thomas, Managing Editor
Pick: Cavs in 7
Why? It might be because I want the series to go seven games. It might be because I’m salty that KD went to the Warriors. It might be that I’m rooting for LeBron. It might be all of the above and more. All I know is that LeBron is the one of the most special players in the history of the League and I’m just happy I get the chance to see him do his thing, and while I’d love for him to do it in four games, I think it’ll take a few more to get it done. But he will.  

Peter Walsh, Senior Editor
Pick: Warriors in 5
Why? The heart says Cavs in seven, but the head knows its Warriors in five. LeBron, KD, Curry, Kyrie and Draymond are all due for huge games, but the Finals will ultimately come down to who has the better series between Kevin Love, who has been excellent all postseason, and Klay Thompson, who has been in a weird slump. Shooters shoot, as they say, and I can’t see Klay going through another round where he tosses up bricks.

Ryne Nelson, Senior Editor
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? Revenge in a powerful drug. We saw it with the Spurs in 2014 after they were robbed of the title the year before. Golden State is mostly healthy (get well, Steve!) and dialed in. The team won’t self-combust this year.

Franklyn Calle, Associate Editor
Pick: Cavs in 6
Why? It’s been my same prediction for the past three years, so just keeping the tradition alive in hopes of getting it right at least once. Plus, all the pressure has been on KD and the Warriors to go all the way since Day 1, while LeBron has less weight on his shoulders than ever before.

Max Resetar, Associate Editor
Pick: Cavs in 6
Why? We thought LeBron’s best year was 2012. He was the MVP, Finals MVP, won his first title and an Olympic Gold that year. Then he he delivered a masterpiece in last year’s Finals, including one of the defining moments in League history. And now, at 32, with 50,000 minutes on his legs, 14 years in, he’s never played better. There’s no betting against the best basketball player since Michael Jordan.

Ryan Jones, Contributing Editor
Pick: Warriors in 5
Why? With KD on board, the Dubs are who we thought they’d be: So potent that most nights they seem almost impossible to beat. The Cavs are capable, of course, but they’ll need four near-perfect games—and even that might not be enough.

Tzvi Twersky, Contributing Editor
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? Can’t wait to see Act 4 next June!

Leo Sepkowitz, Senior Writer
Pick: Cavs in 6
 LeBron is four wins away from kinda-maybe GOAT status. Don’t think he doesn’t know that.

Yaron Weitzman, Senior Writer
Pick: Cavs in 7
Why? Honestly, I’m torn on this. On paper the Warriors feel like favorites. Major favorites. They have two top-five players and four top-20 players and are playing as well as any team in NBA history. The Cavaliers needed seven games to beat the Warriors last year—and that was before they had Kevin Durant. On the other hand, well, the Cavs have LeBron, who just happens to be playing some of the best ball his career. I don’t feel comfortable picking against him. I don’t feel comfortable picking against this Golden State superteam either. I’ll go with the Cavaliers, because why not? I’m rarely right with this stuff anyway.

Ben Collins, Contributor
Pick: Cavs in 6
Why? As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can bet against the best player on this big, rotting space pebble, but that would make you a huge dumbass.”

Drew Ruiz, Contributor
Pick: Cavs in 6
Why? It’s been great to see what LeBron has done the last 14 years, but beating the Warriors (again) with the addition of Kevin Durant would be amazing. No LeBron slander from Basketball Twitter shall prosper when King James gets his fourth title.

Abe Schwadron, Contributor
Pick: Warriors in 5
Why? For political reasons, I’d much prefer LeBron pick up another ‘chip, solidify his place next to Mike in the annals of the game’s history and eschew a trip to the White House. But numbers don’t lie—by just about every statistical measure, offense or defense, traditional or advanced, Golden State is a juggernaut that even No. 23 can’t defeat.

Dennis Page, General Manager
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? But then again, maybe Cavs in 7.

Dave Schnur, Associate General Manager
Pick? Warriors in 6
Why? Warriors have an overwhelming amount of fire power with their four All-Stars. LeBron being the best player in the universe and Kyrie being arguably the best guard on the floor will get them two games but KD, Klay, Curry and Draymond will prove to be too hard to guard.

Michael Yaari, Advertising Sales
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? Even with another Herculean performance from Bron, I don’t see an ultra-motivated Warriors squad dropping their chance at redemption. Basketball’s favorite villain, KD, gets his long-awaited ring and the Warriors shoot their way to a second ring in three years.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry Cover SLAM 209

Illustrations by Caroline Blanchet of Ptitecao Studio; images via Getty