Position-by-position matchups for the NBA Finals
A position-by-position look at the matchups in the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers:
CENTER: Kevon Looney vs. Tristan Thompson. An afterthought much of the season, Thompson rejoined the Cleveland rotation in the playoffs and has provided the Cavaliers with 6.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Warriors coach Steve Kerr went with Looney against Houston but could go a number of ways in this series, with JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and Jordan Bell among his options. And of course, the Warriors are at their best when they go with none of the above, using Draymond Green as the center in a small-ball lineup. Edge: Warriors.
POWER FORWARD: Draymond Green vs. Kevin Love or Jeff Green. The Cavaliers are hoping Love can return after the All-Star missed Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals because of a concussion. Jeff Green started in his place and scored 19 points in the victory in Boston. Neither player can match the all-around production the Warriors get from Draymond Green, with his defense, rebounding and passing. All he has to do is keep his emotions in check. Edge: Warriors.
SMALL FORWARD: Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. Durant was last year’s NBA Finals MVP, is the No. 3 scorer by average among players who have played at least 10 finals games (32.9 points), and still might be the second-best forward in this series. That’s how good James remains at 33, as he proved while averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the Eastern Conference playoffs. In his eighth straight NBA Finals, he probably needs to produce numbers like that in every game to give the Cavaliers any chance. Edge: Cavaliers.
SHOOTING GUARD: Klay Thompson vs. J.R. Smith. The Warriors might not even be here without Thompson’s clutch performance in Game 6 of the West finals against Houston. He can heat up in a hurry from the outside, and as an added benefit no longer has to spend so much energy defending Kyrie Irving as he did so often in the last two NBA Finals. Smith can also heat up, but can also be prone to prolonged bad streaks and losses of concentration, and…