Steph Curry and LeBron James will be in the spotlight in the upcoming NBA Finals, and their star power speaks for itself. It’s tough to see past their incredible ability to play the game. But basketball is a team game. A surrounding cast is needed in order to fulfill every NBA player’s dream. Between Golden State and Cleveland, the bench makes up for under 25 points per game. But, the bench will mean more to the Finals than one may think.
Cleveland’s role players are the reason why they are in the Finals. A big blow to Kevin Love, an aching Kyrie Irving, and a suspended J.R. Smith meant that bench players had to step up for the Cavs. Did you see what these role players, led by James, did to Chicago and Atlanta? Cleveland swept the Hawks without (at times) two of its three stars. The depth of the Cavs has pushed them this far. Smith’s shooting, Shumpert’s defense, Thompson’s offensive rebounding, Dellavedova’s aggressive “get on the floor for the ball” style, combined to make the Cavs very hard to beat so far. The Cavaliers faced adversity in the postseason, and have proven that they have the depth to face it.
Golden State’s bench doesn’t represent much of their scoring, either. The Warriors’ starting five is averaging 78.8 points per game in the playoffs, and 29 of those belong to Curry. Curry is unbelievable, and he cannot be stopped, but he cannot win it alone. He’ll look to his bench in Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Leandro Barbosa. Iguodala is Golden State’s key bench player, averaging eight points per game in the playoffs. Iguodala is Golden State’s sixth man. He’s averaging 28 minutes in the postseason. Livingston and Barbosa don’t score much off the bench, but have shot the ball effectively.
Cleveland’s bench has the advantage coming into the Finals because they’ve been asked to step up in a bigger manner. The Cavs have proven their depth because of the success they have had missing some of their key players. Golden State has had some bumps and bruises along the way, but their starting five has remained fairly healthy up until Golden State’s most recent game. Cleveland has had success playing as a team, and shutting down important players on the opposition. It’ll be the Cavs’ role players that will win them the first championship in Cleveland in over 50 years. But — Golden State is just as hungry, and has just as much talent, if not more. Curry can’t be stopped, but his surrounding cast can be. The Cavs main goal in this series is to have our bench dominate theirs. The starting fives will produce, but it’ll be the next men down who will win the championship.