The 2019 NBA Finals For Dummies: Key Role Players, Team Strategies, and Matchup Analysis (5/30/19)

As the NBA Finals are approaching, one could be overwhelmed by the constant inflow of information from sports analysts, media outlets, and even chatting with others about it. Here’s my go-to guide for those of you who just want to know who will influence the game and what strategies the teams could use to make their matchup more competitive.

To begin, many people expected the Golden State Warriors to make their 5th consecutive visit to the Finals this year, but many were surprised but he Toronto Raptors. Toronto was considered to be the second best in the East all playoffs by many fans, due to the colossal dominance of the Milwaukee Bucks’ terrific Small Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo (If you guys want more info on the possible MVP of the NBA, read some of our previous articles about the 2019 NBA Playoffs). Regardless, Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors pulled off an awesome series win against them and are heading to the finals; which leads me up to a question that most may ask: Who will win the NBA Finals this year? First, we need to dive deep into both rosters and their depth to get a better sense of what type of players the games will be dealing with.
Golden State Warriors:

I believe that the key role players for this team are Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala.

1.Stephen Curry
Steph is gonna be Steph. Very few people discredit the idea that he is the greatest shooter of all time. His scoring was not that great against the Raptors the one time that he played them this season were not that great though. He only scored 10 points! Not only that, but he also only made 25% of his regular and three point shots. In the past 10 games his averages have been 23.6 points, about 6 rebounds, and 5 assists for each game. His FG% has been 48 percent and he has roughly made half of the threes that he has shot.

What to watch:
Look and see how many points Steph racks up, if the number is great then he might even win Finals MVP this year!

2.Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is the Scotty Pippen of the Warriors. As Scotty was in Jordan’s shadow, so is Klay in Curry’s shadow. I’ll be that he will even move teams next year to make a bigger name for himself. Any other team that he could join (with maybe exception to the Bucks and Lakers) would make him their face of their franchise. He, like Steph was very limited from 3 in the two games he played against them in Toronto. His 3P% average was 21.4 percent. In the last ten games alone his percentage has been 44.1%.

What to watch:
Steph and Klay are the main weapons currently on this Warriors team; if Toronto can stop them from three, then they take down the main source of their artillery.

3.Draymond Green In a recent interview with ESPN, Green stated that his role on the team “completely changes” without Kevin Durant. He also mentioned that he has “to be more of a scoring threat.” Draymond Green has taken this role passionately and has even lost weight to try and run faster for the team. He doesn’t necessarily always score a lot of points and gets a lot of technicals, but he does lead with a certain intensity by putting his heart and soul into the game by encouraging his teammates and leaving all of his energy on the court.

What to watch:
A lot of sports-stations will give you sideline perspective by showcasing a view of what an individual player is saying to his teammates. If Draymond Green comes up, listen to what he says, it completely proves my point.

4.Kevin Durant Kevin Durant is the biggest factor in the outcome of these NBA Finals. Recently, he received a calf sprain that has kept him out of almost a full series of playoff games now. He is the reigning back-to-back Finals MVP and is looking to win more.

What to watch:
I believe that if KD comes back before the third game of the Finals, the Warriors have the series in the bag. If he doesn’t it might go to seven games.

5.Andre Iguodala
When referring to Andre Iguodala, one might realize that he is the only other player besides Kevin Durant to achieve the Finals MVP title. He is absolutely know for his ability to punish other defenses during fast-breaks with a crazy dunk or shot behind the arc.

What to watch:
See how many fast break points the Warriors have this Finals and how many of them are Andre Iguodala’s. If he has a lot early on in the first half of each game, the momentum can carry the rest of the team to a dub.

Toronto Raptors:

In my opinion, I think that the major role players for the Raptors are going to be Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Jeremy Lin, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka.

1.Kawhi Leonard Now if there is one word that I think best describes Kawhi, I would probably use the term elite. In terms of the criteria of a basketball player, he’s the whole package. He can shoot, drive, and break ankles with his handles on offense, and yet still be able to turn around and play solid defense on the other side of the floor. And I haven’t even mentioned one of his most dominant traits yet: he’s about 6’7″ or 6’8″ and he’s not afraid to fly and block almost everything; while also harnessing the ability to absolutely slam one and put someone up for a poster-dunk. Leonard’s height propels himself upwards to get on average 8.8 boards (rebounds) per game this playoffs as well.

What to watch:
Just about every player has certain trends in their game when they play different teams in the playoffs; Kawhi is no different. Everything but his ability to rebound seems to speak for itself. In his career, Leonard had averaged 17.7 point and 2.4 assists per game, and a 49.5% Shooting Percentage with 38.3% made from beyond the arc. Against the Warriors, he has averaged 37 points and 3 assists per game, with a 53.8 FG% (shooting percentage, FG= Field Goal) including his extraordinary 50% 3 point shooting percentage. The one thing that has been severely limited in his game in the past against the Dubs is his ability to rebound. His career average is about 7.1 rebounds a game, but against Golden State he only gets about 3 per game. That is less than half of what he usually is known to get!

A possible explanation could be that normally he would have to battle Kevin Durant (6’9″) and Demarcus Cousins (6’11”) in the paint to try and get the ball. They aren’t going to get in his way this time though because KD is out for the first couple games and Boogie Cousins sadly is out for the rest of the season. So, look for how many rebounds the Warriors allow Leonard to get, which could either make or break their team.

2.Pascal Siakam
Now, Pascal is an all-out shooting beast against the Warriors…
He nearly doubles his career PPG (Points per game) whenever he plays them from 10.1 to 19.5. What caused his points to explode was a sudden change in his shooting percentage, particularly from 3. His usual average for FG% each game is around 53.1% and his 3P% tends to be about 31%. Against Golden State his averages are 65% FG percentage, and a whopping 66.7% three point percentage. Absolutely insane!

What to watch:
Contrary to many other NBA analysts, Siakam is my pick as the X-factor for these finals. A large sum of the Raptors’ point are his, which means that in order to keep up with the Warriors’ record shooting percentage he will have to perform well. If you watch the game check how many points Pascal has. If he has many i’ll bet the Raptors will have the edge, and if not I’ll bet the edge will go to the Warriors.

3. Kyle Lowry
Now, Kyle Lowry is arguably the second best player on the Toronto team. Despite other of his teammates shooting success against the Dubs, his stats tend to be lackluster. Instead of getting his career average of 42.4 FG% and 36.7 3P%, he normally only gets 40.6 FG% and 28.6 3P%, Despite this, his passing game has been nothing but the best. In his career, Lowry has averaged 6.1 assists per game but against the GSW he has gotten roughly 12 per game.

What to watch:
Judging from these stats, it can be assumed that Kyle is a great teammate that sets up the other players for great shots. This could be why so many of them have had spectacular shooting percentage against the Warriors. During the game, look and see how many assists he has had, if the number is high then my guess is that the team will have a lot of points, if not I’ll bet that they won’t.

4.Jeremy Lin
JLin is probably one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Most people who understand the game of basketball know that sometimes stats doesn’t always tell the truth. Sometimes players that are bad for a team can rack up tons of points and rebounds etc. while, many good role-players for the team don’t get noticed. Jeremy Lin is exactly that.

While he played for the New York Knicks in 2012, he brought the team to an unexpected winning turnaround that had been winless for a while. This brought a global movement called “insanity” where people from all around the world acknowledged his talent. I believe that his glory days haven’t left him either. For college, he played for Harvard and earned his degree there. To add to this incredible list, he also is a great leader. You can see this any time he steps on the court, he energizes his teammates to pull of a dub.

What to watch:
It’s so hard to say what to look for in Lin this finals because he hasn’t played a ton this season. But that aside, look for the times that he is put in to the game. I’ll bet that when he is in, his teammates will play better.

5.Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol is your typical big man role player for the Raptors. He’s pretty much an average starter in terms of points, averaging 13.6 a game. He uses his height to get just about 8 boards per game. Pretty average for a big man. Despite that, he still manages to nearly double his assists against the Warriors. In his career the mean of his assists per game is 3.4. Against the Warriors this year he has averaged 7.5 assists per game. This shows that he is becoming more of a team player and can set his teammates up for some sweet looks.

What to Watch:
Look to see how many rebounds he gets. If he gets more, it means that he can beat out the big men on the Dubs and get multiple rebounds. That will give the Toronto offense more opportunities to score, which will result in a better chance for them offensively against Golden State.

6. Serge Ibaka
There is not much more to it. Ibaka scores a lot of points per game and is tall and battles for boards. He is a solid player at the center position and is dependable whenever their team needs him.

What to Watch:
See how many points and rebounds Ibaka has after game 1, I’ll bet that if there are many of each the team will be propelled in the right direction.

7. Drake
I was just kidding about this one, but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to each game.

Game one of the 2019 NBA Finals will be at 6pm PDT on May 30, 2019 on ABC