The SLAM Staff Predicts the 2015 NBA Finals

Who you got?
by June 04, 2015

The NBA’s battle royale begins tonight. The King has never felt better heading into Game 1, but his supporting cast has been battered and banged. The Cavs have navigated through so much adversity, the city through so much futility, that victory almost seems destined.

But Steve Kerr has smoothly navigated the Warriors through uncharted waters this season. A franchise-best 67 wins. An elite defense. A lethal offense. A Finals appearance for the first time in 40 years. The MVP and his Splash Brother took hard licks in the conference final but the team’s depth filled in seemlessly.

With a week of downtime, the abundance of storylines have been told to the point of driving fans to madness. But now, it’s finally time. The Finals are here. And so we present to our picks as another chapter in Finals history is about to unfold.

Ben Osborne, Editor-in-Chief
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? My heart says Cavs in 6 because it’s a great story, Cleveland would be deservedly ecstatic and I’ve been #TeamLeBron since way before hashtags existed. But my head says Warriors: they’re deep, skilled and big and in Stephen Curry they have the only player in the League (barring Russell maybe) who is willing to go toe-to-toe with LeBron RIGHT NOW. Not guarding him, obviously, but in the proverbial sense, answering every clutch LBJ play with one of his own. I just hope Mark gets a share of the Championship winnings for shaping this team.

Adam Figman, Senior Editor
Pick: Cavaliers in 7
Why? The Warriors are deeper, play a more fun brand of basketball and were one of the best regular season teams of all time. But Cleveland has the guy from that Vine. They’re gonna win.

Abe Schwadron, Associate Editor
Pick: Warriors in 7
Why? Picking against LeBron feels really, really stupid. But I find it hard to believe the Warriors will lose a home game at all in this series, and without Kyrie Irving at 100 percent, Bron may run out of gas trying to lift a Cavs roster around him that is severely overmatched—or, trying to chase Steph Curry around in crunch time, when the MVP flourishes.

Ryne Nelson, Online Editor
Pick: Warriors in 7
Why? The best team prevails in the end. Golden State moves the ball like the Spurs and has perhaps most dangerous shooter of all time. They’re fully healthy. They’re confident. They have the greatest home court advantage—which will certainly help when this series comes down to a final game.


Ryan Jones, Contributing Editor
Pick: Cavaliers in 6
Why? I think the national Steph Curry Love Fest is serious motivation for Kyrie Irving. I think the Warriors’ lack of Finals experience is going to cost them. And I think we’re going to see a well-rested LeBron play like he’s got a legacy to cement.

Tzvi Twersky, Contributing Editor
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? LeBron can win one game on his own. LeBron can win two games if Kyrie is healthy and ready to star alongside him. Otherwise, though, the Warriors have just too much firepower. Shouts to Steph, Klay, Draymond, Harrison, Andre, Andrew, etc, etc.

Franklyn Calle, Assistant Editor
Pick: Cavaliers in 6
Why? Just can’t see the basketball gods denying LBJ a championship ring two years in a row at this stage. Plus, as a Knicks fans, this is probably the closest a roster of ours (Shump, JR, Movgov) will get to winning a championship anytime soon… so why not root for them, right?

Russ Bengtson, Senior Writer
Pick: Warriors in 5
Why? The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James, it’s true, but the Golden State Warriors have virtually everything else. Maybe things might go a little differently if Kyrie Irving was 100 percent and Kevin Love was in uniform, but they’re not, and they won’t. LeBron will be back again though, he always is.

Michael Bradley, Senior Writer
Pick: Cavaliers in 6
Why? Do you really think LeBron is going to lose this one? To a bunch of guys who have never even seen the Finals up close? No way. Remember that he only has to win four games, not seven. So, he’ll try to let the other guys take over a couple of games, but when it’s time to win, James is going to do it. Golden State is good, but those jumpers won’t fall so easily when the Cavs are trying to smother them, and the pressure is at its highest. Cleveland isn’t necessarily a great team, especially without Kevin Love, but LeBron is a transcendent player. By the end of this series, he’ll also be a three-time champ.

Alan Paul, Senior Writer
Pick: Cavaliers in 6
Why? This is just playing a hunch. If I stop and break it down, there’s no way I don’t pick the Warriors. But LeBron has been a treat to watch, and there’s very little NBA history to indicate that Curry and GSW win on their first trip. Just not how it usually works. As a Pittsburgh native, I’d love to have Cleveland’s drought continue in perpetuity but my respect for LBJ overwhelms that. And, besides, we’ll always have the Browns to laugh at.

Khalid Salaam, Senior Writer
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? GS has so much depth and especially at the 3, they are one of the few teams that can keep a legitimate defender on LeBron at all times.

Bonsu Thompson, Senior Writer
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? Defense wins Championships. Systems with a great defense win more championships (see Bulls, San An). No one man can stop Lebron, but the Warriors haven’t trumped teams all season by only stopping one star (see James Harden). A couple Cavaliers are about to get exposed.


DeMarco Williams, Senior Writer
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? My wife is one of those really, REALLY proud Bay Area natives, so I kinda have to side with the Warriors if I want any semblance of peace in my house over the next few weeks. Plus, after seeing them advance through a Western Conference finals that tested their mental fortitude (and concussion protocol), I’d be a head case not to believe in Golden State right now.

Bill DiFilippo, Editorial Assistant
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? On one hand, between how last year’s Finals ended and all of the hype surrounding his return to Cleveland, picking against LeBron seems a bit absurd. However, this Warriors team is a juggernaut, as it has the best offense in the NBA and it can keep throwing different guys/looks at LeBron (some combination of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes). I do think Cleveland’s ability to grab offensive rebounds—GS was one of the worst teams in the league this year at allowing offensive boards—its newfound emphasis on the defensive end and the fact that it has the best basketball player on earth should lead to two wins, but Golden State has been the best team in the league all year, and Steph Curry is still Steph Curry.

Habeeba Husain, Editorial Assistant
Pick: Warriors in 7
Why? This may or may not be a want more than an actual prediction (because like last year, I still hate predictions)…but I’m sticking with the Dubs in 7. LeBron James is a beast, no doubts here about that. But after dominating the entire regular season, the Playoffs, and the hearts of many beyond the Roaracle, I think Steph Curry and the freshest Golden State Warriors will pull through ’til the very end.

Eli Schwadron, Editorial Assistant
Pick: Cavaliers in 7
Why? I could rattle off any number of statistics, go through position-by-position match ups or talk about regular season head-to-heads (for the record, Steph struggled at Quicken Loans in a Golden State loss, and LeBron didn’t play in a Cavs loss at Oracle). But we all know the Finals will come down to the two superstars — LeBron and Steph Curry. The latter was the regular season MVP, and while Steph has still been sensational in these Playoffs, in my opinion LeBron has been the MVP of the post-season. Banking on LeBron having a career-defining Finals and finally bringing Cleveland that long-sought-after chip. Cavs in 7.

Leo Sepkowitz, Editorial Assistant
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? This sure feels like the Warriors’ year, with Steph Curry’s MVP, Draymond Green’s pre-free agency rampage, Andrew Bogut’s body finally holding up, yada yada. This also feels like a preamble to endless LeBron speeches about growing pains and how it’s all a long-term process. I feel uneasy about drifting along with the tide, but, like, Splash Bros

Peter Walsh, Editorial Assistant
Pick: Cavaliers in 7
Why? Yes, that means the Cavs will have to win Game 7 in Golden State but I can’t bet against LeBron, he’s playing at such a high level. Lyric Irving’s health is obviously a huge factor but as is Golden State’s complete inexperience in this situation. Steph will be phenomenal, of course, and Klay will have his moments, too but my money’s on the best player on the planet.

Yaron Weitzman, Editorial Assistant
Pick: Warriors in 5
Why? I so desperately want this to be a tight series (mostly because I want to see what a JR Smith victory would look like), but I just don’t see the path for the Cavs. Yeah, LeBron is great, but how does a team running a bunch of isolations and playing with two non-shooters score against the league’s top defense? And also, how do the Cavs contain the Warriors with a hobbled Kyrie Irving on the floor? Where do they hide him? Maybe David Blatt has the answer to these questions, and maybe LeBron plays the best basketball of his career, and maybe Draymond Green gets in foul trouble every game. That’s a lot of maybes, though. Instead I’ll take the 67-win team that was also No. 1 in defense and No. 2 in offense this year.


Maurice Bobb, Contributor
Pick: Warriors in 7
Why? Before we get started, let me just say this: I’m NOT a LeBron James hater. I swear. I know, I know, I bet against the Chosen One for the last two Finals picks, but know this: I respect the man’s greatness. He’s the best player in the L. He’s 250 pounds of dime droppin’, shot poppin’, gimme the ball and get the eff out of my way, it’s winning time. That’s why, as sure as I’m certain that the Golden State Warriors will win the ‘ship, I’m equally afraid that he can hero ball the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first ever NBA Championship. That being said, I’m manning up and rolling with my gut. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of the crew will not lie down for the King’s destiny. They will claw, defend, rebound and shoot the freakin’ light outs once the ball’s thrown in the air and, when it’s all said and done, the rookie head coach with five rings will hoist the Larry O’Brien hardware with his band of merry men.

Brendan Bowers, Contributor
Pick: Cavaliers in 7
Why? The Cavaliers have had a long list of reasons why they shouldn’t be on the verge of winning an NBA Championship. Kevin Love hasn’t played since the Boston series. J.R. Smith was suspended against the Bulls. Kyrie Irving missed two games against the Hawks. But despite all that, LeBron James has simply ignored all excuses and willed his teammates to do the same. Expect James to be too dominant to be denied and his teammates to follow suit while overcoming homecourt advantage in a hard-fought series against the Warriors.

Sam Rubenstein, Contributor
Pick: Cavaliers in 6
Why? As SLAM’s official recommender of literature to NBA stars, this season I suggested Beowulf for LeBron and The Outsiders for Steph Curry. One ends with the hero slaying a dragon, sacrificing his own life in the process, and the other ends with the narrator writing a book about what he’s learned. So, what will happen is LeBron will give everything he’s got playing crazy minutes through cramps and all, bringing glory to long suffering Cleveland, but it will be a Cavs supporting cast member like JR Smith with no ties to Ohio, who steals the MVP. Steph will learn from this painful defeat, and the Warriors will find out that nothing in the NBA comes this easy.

Dave Zirin, Contributor
Pick: Warriors in 6
Why? I cannot even conceive of a scenario where the Cavs win this series without LeBron going all Oscar Robertson by dropping a 35-12-12 line over seven games. LeBron dragged the Cavs into the finals and if there is one thing that the Dubs don’t do, it’s get dragged. They set the pace.

Rajah Allarey, Kicks of the Night
Pick: Cavs in 4
Why? ‘Cause if the Cavs do sweep, I’ll be one of the few that called it. But in all seriousness, it might’ve been Curry’s year, but Bron is on a mission. He’s doing it for his team, the people of Cleveland and he’s going to bring the crown home. I can’t see him being denied.

Images via Getty