Basketball teaser

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers meeting in the NBA Finals continue to come at us like Marvel movies.

Thus marks the fourth straight year the two teams have met for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The Warriors took the title in 2015 and 2017, while the Cavaliers won in 2016. This year’s edition of the best-of-seven series starts in Golden State on Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC and the WatchESPN app.

With the NBA Finals starting, four local basketball players and one coach give their predictions and thoughts on the series:

Diante Wood (University of Alabama, Sacred Heart)

Wood was a named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 1A Player of the Year the last three years, while helping Sacred Heart to an AHSAA record-tying four straight state championships.

Winner: Golden State

Games: Five

Why: I feel that (Golden State) is a better overall team then the Cavs. The Cavs don’t have all the pieces that it takes to beat a team like the Warriors. LeBron (James) may be the GOAT, but he can’t beat the Warriors by himself.

MVP: Kevin Durant  

Deon Wright (Jacksonville State University, ICCC, Oxford)

Wright was named all-region first team during his two seasons at Iowa Central Community College before transferring to JSU after helping the Yellow Jackets to two Calhoun County basketball titles.

Winner: Golden State

Games: Five

Why: I feel (Golden State) is going to win, because the Cavs struggle to score offensively and the Warriors score at ease. I also feel like LeBron is going to run out of gas — he will be guarding Durant and will still be expected to do the vast majority offensively. Another reason is (Golden State) is one of the few teams in the league that has multiple bodies that can physically stay in front of LeBron.

MVP: Kevin Durant

Cam Horton (Southern University, EMCC, Jacksonville)

Horton, an ASWA All-State player at Jacksonville High, averaged 13.7 points on 40.7 percent shooting in 23 games at East Mississippi Community College, before committing to Southern University on May 3rd.

Winner: Cleveland

Games: Six

Why: LeBron James and Cleveland have a lot of momentum riding into the playoffs; all they have to do is steal two on the road and they can win. They are great at home. Another reason is Cleveland hasn’t played their best basketball yet during these playoffs, which is good and bad.

MVP: LeBron James

Eugene Leonard (Oxford)

Leonard, a three-year starter for head coach Joel Van Meter, helped guide Oxford to the Class 6A Northeast Regional finals the last two years and a Calhoun County basketball tournament championship in 2017.

Winner: Cleveland

Games: Six

Why: I feel like LeBron will get help from others and the greatness of him will have an impact.

MVP: LeBron James

Chris Randall (White Plains)

The 19-year veteran head coach has led White Plains to multiple area championships, four regional finals and a semifinal appearance since taking over in 2001. Despite adding coaching golf to his duties, Randall still has time to check in on NBA action.  

Winner: Golden State

Games: Six

Why: (Golden State has) too many scorers — four all-stars vs. the GOAT. LeBron will steal one or two, but they just don’t have enough weapons even if Andre Iguodala is out.

MVP: Stephen Curry, it’s his time to shine.

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