Before the NBA Finals get underway, the Game 7 Network team got together for a little roundtable discussion on the upcoming series between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as a look back on the NBA Playoffs.

Photo: AP

1. Who was this year’s “unsung hero” of the Playoffs?

Scott: Cleveland’s supporting cast. For being labeled as not “deep,” role players like J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert & Timofey Mozgov have stepped up big time. Against the Bulls and Hawks, they just played grittier and with more heart. LeBron has carried the load with an injured Kyrie & Love, but he’s definitely gotten help in their absence.

Johnny: I have to go with an individual who burst onto the scene these playoffs. I am talking about my girl Riley Curry. The star potential of this young lady is off the charts and brought some excitement to the playoffs. Other than some of the Western Conference matchups, the playoffs needed some spark and Riley Curry provided that.

Isaiah: Riley Curry.  I’m serious.  What two-year old has the ability to capture the hearts of millions of NBA fans as well as make a select few journalists look like bitter, grumpy old men?  With a post-season that seemingly just breezed by, no one took advantage of the spotlight more than the daughter of the MVP.

Juno: The unsung hero of the playoffs has got to be JR Smith. With the way Kevin Love went down for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Smith stepped it up in a big way in helping the Cavs with the offense that they desperately needed. On top of this, with a banged up Kyrie Irving, Smith’s production on the offensive end, coupled with his improved defense, makes him an important piece in the potential title run for the Cavaliers.

2. Who has been the post-season’s most disappointing player?

Photo: AP

Scott: A tie between Derek Rose & Joakim Noah. Outside of the game winner against the Cavs, Rose just wasn’t consistent enough to take advantage of a hobbled Kyrie Irving. Noah played hurt, but should have asked to sit out. Rose will never return to MVP form and the Bulls really missed Noah’s presence on defense and on the boards.

Johnny: I’ll go with the Chicago Bulls as one player. The best shot to knock off the Cavs, this team was in the middle of turmoil and the blame goes all the way from the players to the front office. If I had to choose one player though, Joakim Noah. Terrible. Averages of 5 points on 33% shooting for a center? Stop it.

Isaiah: Joakim Noah.  He completely struggled from the field in both of the Bulls’ series against the Bucks and the Cavs, and was thoroughly out-played by Tristan Thompson.

Juno: The most disappointing player of the playoffs, for me, was Dwight Howard. For a man that was paid $88 million a few years back, he significantly underachieved, despite his 16.4 points and 14.0 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Also, with all the talk about Howard calling himself a champion, despite the loss to the Warriors, showed that Dwight is not as driven to win as many people think he is.

This mentality shows that Howard is a player that can accept losses, which validates the criticism that Kobe Bryant has had of him in the past about not wanting it bad enough.

3. Did you expect such one-sided Conference Finals match-ups?

Photo: AP

Scott: No. I picked the Spurs and Bulls in the Finals, but obviously that didn’t happen. Once San Antonio lost in the 1st round, Golden State was the clear favorite, but Cleveland’s march to the Finals is impressive. This has to be LeBron James’ best postseason in his career so far. He literally put the team on his back.

Johnny: I actually thought the Hawks would beat the Cavs. Dumb. The young Hawks were overmatched and when the injuries hit, the chances went out the window completely. For GS/HOU, I had GS in six but it would be an easy six if that makes sense. Houston should have been swept by the Clippers and while momentum is one thing, the Warriors were just a superior team.

Isaiah: Once the matchups were decided, I thought the Eastern Conference Finals was going to be a bore.  What I didn’t expect was the Golden State Warriors beating the Houston Rockets in a quick series.  I honestly thought that it would go seven.

Juno: In the Eastern Conference, I expected it due to the problem with the Atlanta Hawks of not having the star and leader that would carry them when the game gets tight. LeBron James, with all the experience in the world, took over and pounced on the hapless and young Hawks which led to the sweep. On the other side, I didn’t expect such a beatdown to occur from the Warriors against the Rockets. After beating the Clippers in Round 2, despite being down 3-1 in the series, I expected James Harden and the Rockets to carry over this momentum into their matchup with Golden State. However, Stephen Curry and the Warriors were just that good, which led to the win.

4. What does it say that two rookie NBA coaches are facing off in the NBA Finals?

Photo: USA Today Sports

Scott: Talent rules. Kerr has done a more impressive job since he took a good team and made them better. In Cleveland, James is not only the best player on the court, but he’s been the coach too. Coaching will rear it’s head in the finals though. Blatt will be severely outmatched on the bench.

Johnny: I do not put much stock into it. While both Kerr and Blatt can coach, they took over teams that were in good position to do big things. Kerr taking over a Golden State team that was on the brink and Blatt taking over a LeBron James led team in the below average East.

Isaiah: The NBA is a players’ league.  Steve Kerr already had the talent in place to make it work in the Bay Area.  It seemed all the players’ needed was a new voice.  It helped that Andrew Bogut was finally healthy for the post-season.  As for the Cavs, look no further than a certain hometown boy named LeBron James to make all the difference.

Juno: It shows that the coaches complimented their teams well so far through the postseason. David Blatt and Steve Kerr, despite being rookie coaches, were both a good fit for their teams with the way they elevated the level from their players in the playoffs. With Cleveland, Blatt being able to bring out the best out of Matthew Dellavedova and Kerr with Andrew Bogut speaks a lot of the overall effect that they have on their teams.

5. Who will win the NBA Championship and who will be named Finals MVP?

Scott: Golden State in six. Steph Curry wins Finals MVP.

Johnny: Golden State Warriors with Steph Curry taking home MVP honors. This will not be an easy series by any means BUT for the first time in these playoffs, the Cavs and LeBron face a team not dealing with injury issues and most importantly, the best team in the league. Golden State has enough players to throw at LeBron defensively that will slow him down just enough, allowing the Warriors offense to go to work.

Isaiah: I believe the Warriors can win this in five games, with Steph Curry taking home the Finals MVP award, capping a historic season for the franchise.  It won’t be easy, but I think the Warriors have enough going on for them to win both of the first two games at home as well as stealing one in Cleveland.

Juno: It is a tough question to ask. Both teams are talented enough to win it all. How Golden State will deal with LeBron James and how Cleveland will deal with Stephen Curry will ultimately be the critical part of this series. In the end of the day however, I will have to predict this going to Golden State, probably in 6 or 7. Given the amount of talent on this team, and the fact that Kyrie Irving has not had a healthy postseason. I believe that they have what it takes to beat Cleveland. Finals MVP would go, of course, to Stephen Curry.

2015 NBA Finals Preview (via CBS Sports)

About The Author

NBA & MLS writer for Game 7 Network. Former host of The Half Court Heave Podcast, and was a writer for Laker Nation. LA-born, Philippine-raised, Las Vegas-living.

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