By Valerie Uy
It's NBA Finals season again, and in case you're one of those folks who are clueless about what's basically going on, then welcome to the club.
Basketball talk sure sounds like a foreign language to some of us. So to aid you in catching up, here's a breakdown of all the need-to-know facts about the heated finals that's currently taking everyone and their dads by storm. This recap may be on a TLDR level, but we promise that you'll come out wiser than ever before! You're welcome, sis.
1. The League
The NBA is comprised of 30 Teams (29 from the USA, and 1 from Canada) geographically divided into two conferences–the East and the West, both with 15 teams, respectively. The 30 teams compete against each other during the regular season, playing a total of 82 games.
2. The Playoffs
Win-loss standings naturally emerge over the course of the regular season, and at the end of all 82 games played, the top 8 teams from each conference (16 teams in total) make the cut to The NBA Playoffs A.K.A. the postseason. The respective champions of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals will meet in the NBA Finals, and the winner of which will be crowned World Champions.
3. Warriors VS. Cavaliers
Emerging from the Eastern Conference Finals are The Cleveland Cavaliers who went head-to-head with the Boston Celtics, while the Golden State Warriors won over the Houston Rockets at the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors and the Cavaliers met for the fourth straight time in the NBA Finals, a first in NBA history.
4. The Cavs
Lebron James, arguably the best player on the planet right now has been the face and story of the franchise since 2003. Already on his 15th season, “The King” still remains to be an unstoppable force on both ends of the court and has shown no signs of slowing down. The Cavaliers have struggled during the regular season–many would say that his supporting cast of Cavs this season is one of Lebron’s most challenging yet.
5. The Dubs
The Warriors, affectionately called “Dubs” by their fans, changed the recent landscape of the game with their small ball lineup and seemingly endless blitz of 3 point shooting. Known as one of the most explosive offenses the league has ever seen, the Dubs came to the spotlight with the rise of the Splash Brothers–Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, known as two of the league’s best three point shooters. During the 2016 offseason, they added superstar Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder to their already stacked lineup.
As mentioned earlier, the Cavs and the Dubs are playing against each other at the Finals for the 4th season in a row. Here’s a quick background of an ongoing storied rivalry that will go down as one of the NBA’s best:
6. 2015 NBA Finals: The First Meeting
While the Dubs breezed through the Playoffs, injuries plagued the Cavs as they lost players such as Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, leaving it up to Lebron James to carry the team. During the Finals, the first two games went to overtime, with each team winning one apiece. James carried the Cavs to a Game 3 win, giving the Cavs a series 2-1 series lead. The Warriors won the next 2 games and clinched the series in Game 6 with their death lineup, delivering the city of San Francisco their first title in 40 years.
7. 2016 NBA Finals: The Comeback Kings
While the Warriors had a historic regular season with 73 wins, the entire season went down to one game during the finals, Game 7. An extremely close game was played until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Cavs "Big Three" proved clutch: a chasedown block by James, lockdown defense on Curry by Love, and a clutch 3 pointer by Irving, winning the historical series–Cleveland’s first franchise title, and the only team in NBA history to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit.
8. 2017 NBA Finals: Kevin Durant and the Super Team
With previous Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant in the team, the Dubs won Games 1 and 2 easily at home, with Durant’s late game basket over Lebron James sealing Game 3. James and Kyrie Irving made Finals history in Game 4 with 86 first half points. This was not enough, however, as despite an early Cavs lead, the Dubs’ already offensive firepower, further elevated by the arrival of Durant, won Game 5. It came full circle for Durant–he finally captured his first NBA title and delivered the Warriors their second crown in three years.
9. 2018 NBA Finals: A Warriors Dynasty?
The Cavaliers’ then All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving requested for a trade during the offseason to the Boston Celtics, breaking up the Cavaliers’ "Big Three" composed of Irving, James, and Kevin Love. This team is widely acknowledged to be one of James’ most challenging supporting casts to date.
Despite the struggle, the Cavs prevailed in 7 games, largely due to heavy minutes and heroic basketball by James–the story of this season’s Cavs. The Warriors also didn't have it easy as most of their All-Stars would miss regular season games due to injuries, making this season the most challenging yet in the Durant era.
The Finals is currently on-going with the Warriors opening as huge favorites–it would be a stretch to say this series will go to Game 6. But if there is a player in the world who can overcome such stacked odds, and in fact thrives on it, it would be Lebron James. But the King will need all the help he can get against this battle-tested team. Even then, does he have enough left against a death lineup that just seems to be able to flip the switch and score at will?
Now that you've fairly caught up to this season of NBA, catch the games live on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD. See updated schedule here.
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