Well NBA fans, the matchup that seemed inevitable is going down.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals has been percolating since the moment the Cavs ended the drought last June.

Throw in the Warriors snagging Kevin Durant as a free agent last July and many pundits had "Warriors-Cavs" penciled in as the Finals matchups since last summer.

Count my inner fan among those who have been waiting for this. As usual, his thoughts and mine differ a bit on this series

Journalist Michael: Here we go, again. I'm not going to say you called it, though, because a lot of folks did.

Fan Mike: Yeah, yeah. Some of those same folks were saying the Cavaliers were "vulnerable" right before the playoffs started in April. Cleveland was a Boston buzzer-beater in Game 3 away from going Moses Malone on the Eastern Conference.

JM: Moses Malone? I presume you were looking for "Fo' Fo' Fo?'"

FM: Darn right, I was. And, of course, the Warriors had to go out and do it to the Western Conference. I expected a lot more out of the Spurs.

JM: So did most NBA fans. Once again, tell me how successful a team can be with its two best players out with injuries? This time, Greg Popovich didn't have Tim Duncan to fall back on.

FM: I see you're sticking with your omnipresent "health means everything" take?

JM: It's yet to be disproven. The Cavs didn't have a full unit for basically the entire second half of the season. The injury list was downright comical in March.

FM: You mean the fact Andrew Bogut lasted less than a minute before breaking his leg?

JM: That was probably the nadir of season. Once everyone got healthy by mid-April, though, the only team that looked more dominant than the Cavs was the Warriors.

FM: I'll be honest. I've barely watched the Warriors play in the postseason. Everyone knows what's coming.

JM: Speaking of not watching, what do you think of some pundits calling out the NBA for having "boring" or "unwatchable" playoffs with so many blowouts.

FM: I know I used to call for parity all the time when Michael Jordan was with the Bulls.

JM: I'm guessing the fact No. 23 now wears wine and gold means you've switched your position?

FM: There's no such thing as hypocrisy when it comes to pursuing championships

JM: Right.

FM: Speaking of the No. 23s, how does LeBron James surpassing Jordan as the all-time playoff scoring leader sound?

JM: I know every time anyone breaks a Jordan record, you're a happy man.

FM: Indeed. So let's get down to it. It's the first time in NBA history we're going to have a rubber match in the Finals, so these two teams know each other very well.

JM: I still can't believe the Lakers and Celtics didn't hook up three straight years, given all the success those two franchises have had.

FM: Given the way both these teams are structured, Cavs-Warriors could be in Celtics-Lakers mode for the next decade.

JM: That's hard to argue at this point.

FM: So, what is you official prediction?

JM: Warriors in seven.

FM: Get out!

JM: Calm yourself, son! Looking at this from a rational perspective, Golden State is the better team in terms of overall talent. They've got the last three NBA MVPs on the roster. They check every box in terms of offense and defense, even without a dominant big man.

FM: So, you're giving the title based on accolades?

JM: No. I'm not calling for a sweep like some naysayers are. I think these two teams have been circling each other all season and are preparing mentally for a repeat of last year's seven-game marathon.

FM: Which, by the way, nobody seemed to give the Cavaliers any chance of winning and look what happened.

JM: Which is the reason why my prediction is in pencil. Are the Cavs the underdogs? Yes. Are they as prohibitive underdogs as some seem to indicate? Not in my mind. The Cavs are going to need to play their best ball to win this series, but it's far from unthinkable that they can.

FM: My official prediction is Cavs in six.

JM: You just want to see them clinch it on the home floor.

FM: And?

JM: And it's possible. If LeBron James plays the way he has in every game these playoffs --save game three in Boston -- anything is possible.

FM: That includes another long, hot, weary, wonderful trip to E. 9th Street in Cleveland in late June for me.

JM: Do me a favor and don't count your chickens before they hatch.

FM: Do me a favor and let me enjoy the ride.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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