Read part one of this roundtable here.
1. Who is the Warrior aside from Curry who will cause the Cavs the most problems?
William Bohl: Harrison Barnes. If LeBron turns his defensive attention elsewhere (to Green, Iguodala, Thompson or even Curry), look for Harrison Barnes to exploit potential mismatches. Iman Shumpert will probably be busy with someone else. I shudder to think at what Barnes might do to James Jones, even though he'll only be on the floor for short stretches. J.R. Smith has played very good defense in the playoffs, but gives up a bit of size in this matchup. Barnes is Golden State's wild card - if he has a great series, it'll be very hard for Cleveland to overcome it.
Trevor Magnotti: Andre Iguodala has the potential to screw with a lot of what the Cavs want to do on both ends. Offensively, he's one of the best off-ball cutters of the last decade, and if he AND Barnes are out there together, that'll present a conundrum from Thompson and Mozgov who will have to do a lot of recovery inside. He's also a fantastic playmaker (Which people always forget) and is going to demand attention from the perimeter even though he's not the best three-point shooter. Defensively, simply put he's one of the best isolation defenders in the league. He allowed 0.64 points per possession (PPP) in the regular seasons on ISOs, Helped shut off Harden from stretches in the conference finals, and is big and strong enough that he might make life pretty difficult for LeBron when he gets a crack at him.
Chris Manning: Draymond Green. If he can get back to shooting the three well while still being an insanely good defender, he can do a lot of different things to give the Cavs headaches. Green's matchup with Tristan Thompson should have a huge impact on this series one way or another.
Mike Mayer: Klay Thompson, assuming he's healthy. If the Cavs put Shumpert on Curry, then Kyrie has to guard Klay, right? That doesn't sound optimal. With the Cavs likely focussing their defense on stopping Curry, that's going to inevitably leave Thompson open for some threes and there's probably not much they can do about it.
Justin Rowan: Trevor stole my answer. I think Andre Iguodala sees a lot of time this series at the expense of Harrison Barnes. He has the ability to attack LeBron's dribble and the best size/ mobility to contend with James on the perimeter. He's a very smart player on the offensive side of the floor and should be able to put his fingerprints all over this series. If LeBron plays in the post, I think you see Green check him. But the bulk of his time on the perimeter will likely feature Iggy as the primary defender.
Aaron Perine: Shaun Livingston. If he gives them quality minutes at the backup PG and keeps their offense slinking along in Curry's absence things will be harder to deal with and that makes my head hurt.
Ryan Mourton: Andrew Bogut. Bogut is the one thing standing between LeBron and getting to the rim when he feels like it. He is an utter pest, and makes opposing players furious. How Bogut and Mozgov matchup, and Bogut's ability to help on drives and control the glass is in my opinion a little undersold. Remove Bogut, the Warriors are looking at the LeBron/Thompson 4/5 switch machine of doom from the Cavaliers defense, and LeBron getting to the rim over smaller guys on the other end.
2. What is one edge the Cavaliers have over the Warriors and how can they exploit it?
WB: Cleveland's frontcourt is deeper than Golden State's. It'll be up to David Blatt to manage the rotations just right to exploit the times when Andrew Bogut is resting on the bench. While neither Mozgov or Thompson is a guy you can dump it into in the post and let them work, they ought to be able to clean up on the offensive glass and steal a few buckets that way. In close games, little edges like that can make all the difference.
TM: How many offensive rebounds can Tristan Thompson get? He's a better rebounder than anyone Golden State can put out there, and he has to make an impact early, because he can help muck up the Warriors' defensive rotations by just plucking misses when Bogut leaves him to contest a shot. This in turn will force them to keep more guys back to secure the rebound, limiting the transition looks that I am very worried about them getting. Thompson's gonna need to tack on a few more millions to Rich Paul's summer demands if the Cavs are going to win this series.
CM: LeBron James is the advantage. He's the best player in the series and while Green and Barnes are two guys you want to defend LeBron, he has advantages over both. LeBron can also defend Curry in the fourth and, if the game is on the line, you have to feel good about LeBron being the guy chasing around Curry. The Warriors have so many advantages in this series, but they don't have a real answer for LeBron.
MM: I agree that it's LeBron. The Warriors can present so many matchup problems for any team they play, but the Cavs have the ability to do so as well solely because of one player. He can force the Warriors to adjust, rather than letting them dictate what they want to do. When the Cavs beat the Warriors back in late February, LeBron did exactly what he'll need to do in this series. He dominated in the post from time to time and still made enough outside shots to keep their defense honest.
JR: Klutch play. Both LeBron James and Tristan Thompson are managed by Klutch sports and both are the greatest matchup advantages the Cavs have in this series. LeBron in his ability to make a huge impact in every single facet of the game and Thompson in his versatility as a defender and ability to buy extra possessions for the Cavs. I think those two, along with the supporting cast, might be enough to keep the games close enough for LeBron to steal in the closing minutes.
AP: Kyrie Irving because he is a microcosm of the larger series. No one knows what he will be able to do or not do. If he's able to give the Cavs some of his best self for a couple of quarters, that may be enough to swing a game or two. But, him, Tristan and LeBron are the bright spots for sure.
RM: Shooters. WAIT LISTEN OK. The Cavs have gotten great shooting from Irving, Smith, Shumpert, Dellavedova, and Jones on the road here. They have guys that stick open threes. A lot of them. Golden State does too, but not as many. Obviously,they make up for that in sheer quality. Still, the Cavs ability to play four-out, with Thompson at center, and LeBron or Jones at the 4fouris a unique look, and with LeBron is obviously something that can pile on points a lot faster than you'd think.
3. Make your pick: Cavs or Warriors and in how many games?
WB: Cavs in 6. The Cavaliers have shown the ability to come through when things get mucky; the key will be to slow things down and control the tempo of each game, particularly in the fourth quarter. If they do that, it comes down to making shots, and as great as Steph, Klay, and the rest of the Warriors are, I trust LeBron to score and create for others during crunch time.
TM: Warriors in 6. Strangely I think the defense will be okay; but I have significant worries about the Cavs' ability to create consistent offense against Golden State's defense if Kyrie's not fully healthy. I wouldn't be shocked if the Cavs took it to seven or won the damn thing, but I have doubts about the offense against the league's number one defense, even with LeBron James.
CM: Dubs in 6. The Cavs can win this, but without Kyrie Irving at 100 percent and Kevin Love, this feels a lot like this Finals is going to look at lot like last year's Heat-Spurs final with the the Cavs playing the part of the Heat.
MM: Warriors in 5. I want to believe in the Cavs; they've had an incredible run up to this point, and they have way more Finals experience, so I guess they have a chance. But the Warriors have been the best team in the NBA all season, and they could go down as one of the greatest teams of all-time. They are so talented at every position, and so smart about how they use lineups. I can only imagine the Cavs winning if LeBron is amazing, and even then he'll probably still need help.
JR: I'm going to pull a Costanza here and bring both logical Justin and gut feeling Justin to the table. Logical me says that the Warriors win in six. My gut feeling is that the Cavs win in six.
AP: Cavs in 6. Call me crazy but it's been a wild ride and I think that things are going to be weird but, the Cavs will win ugly and catch some lucky breaks. Put it to you this way: Would you bet against LeBron James? I thought not.
RM: Man. Maaaaaaaan. There isn't a single outcome in this series that would surprise me, just like the last one, even the Cavs getting swept. This series is going 6 games, I think. I'll pick the Cavs, because,well, why not?