The 2015 NBA Finals is full of big names on both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, we all know the stars and what they bring to the table. For both sides they will need guys to step up if foul trouble, off shooting night, or injuries rear their ugly head, chances are one or multiple of these instances will happen and in someone absence who will be the difference and X-Factor.
For the Golden State Warriors their X-factor could be multiple guys, Harrison Barnes, Iguodala or newly healed up Marreese Speights. Any would be a very good pick but I’m going with a guy many would not consider. Festus Ezeli. I can hear your reaction now,WHAT?! IS HE NUTS!
No ladies and gentleman I’m not nuts. How could a back up big who has played very little for the Warriors possibly be their X Factor? Go back and watch the Western Conference Finals and you’ll understand why. Ezeli made life hell for Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones when he was on the floor and made sure James Harden knew he was coming anytime Harden drove to the basket. Ezeli is very talented but has been buried on this Warriors team ever since coming into the NBA. He not only defended extremely well in the WCF he also showed little flashes on offense ,showing he’s no chump. Ezeli doesn’t need to come in and get a double double or off over for 20 points to be the difference maker for the Dubs in this series. Even if he averages 6 points and 7.5 boards as long as the comes in and clogs the paint if Bogut and Green are in foul trouble or if Speights goes down and deters LeBron James and Kyrie Irving from getting to the bucket and doing what they want at will than the Warriors will have a much easier time bringing that title back to Golden State.
I had a tougher time figuring out who is the X Factor for the Cavaliers is. LeBron James obviously needs to be his freak-self and put Cleveland on his shoulders to take them to the promise land. I really out heavy thought into Timofey Mozgov but he is a starter and major presence to this team. So going through the roster I realized the one guy who can make a big difference on both ends of the floor creating spacing and taking pressure off the rim protectors. Former New York Knick: Iman Shumpert. Shumpert needs to come up big as he will never get a rest on defense as his assignments will vary from Steph Curry to Thompson to Andre Iguodala.
Shumpert has proven to be a lock down defender and has the ability to score and help take attention off his teammates, at 41 % from the field and 34% from being the 3 point arc his numbers are far from glamorous and efficient but he gives the ability and threat to hit from midrange and out giving spacing to Tristan Thompson and Mozgov in the paint while providing James and Irving more room to work. He can guard both guard positions and can stick with 3’s. If he can make life hard on the “Splash Brothers” while playing smart, not to pick up fouls he can give Cleveland a major boost. They have much higher chances of pulling off this title run if they can slow down Curry and Thompson. Average 8-10 points 4 boards 3 assists and airtight defensive you have to like Cleveland’s odds with King James on their side.
Defense will be what wins the 2015 NBA National Championship. The Warriors have been one of the best and Cavaliers very respectable especially with the addition of Mozgov. We know both teams can score, now it will be who can slow down the other first and limit the runs. I expect fast pace and at times very sloppy but exciting basketball through this entire series. We will see if my X Factor predictions come true as we tip off Game 1 tonight!