Terry Pluto acknowledges he's contradicting himself a bit when he talks about the Cavs-Golden State NBA Finals match-up. He says Golden State should be an overwhelming favorite to win. But "this is the best Cavs team I've ever seen."
So, who will win?
Pluto jokes that his friends have advised him to stop making predictions because they're usually wrong (although he did correctly predict the Cavs would beat the Raptors in six games).
Here, instead, Pluto outlines each teams' strengths.
Three reasons Golden State will win:
1. Defending NBA Champions. In 2015, The Warriors won their first title in 40 years. They beat the Cavs in six games and will have that confidence going into this rematch. Plus, they made a tremendous comeback over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals. "They became only the 10th team in NBA history to be down 3-1 in an NBA season and come back to win."
2. Destiny. Golden State broke the record for the most wins in the regular season with 73. "Most years against most teams I think [the Cavs] would have been favored. But they are facing a team that is making history and almost has a sense of destiny. The Cavs are a team with history [that] has been against it. They can’t even spell destiny -- any of the Cleveland teams!"
3. Home court advantage. Games 1 and 2 will be in Oakland. A deciding game 7 will be there too, if necessary. "They lost just two games in the regular season at home and one during the playoffs. It’s an older arena; fans are right on top of you. It is a tough place to play.”
Three reasons the Cavs will win:
1. The best Cavs team ever. "I’ve seen all the Cavs teams since 1970," Pluto says. "The Cavs have never had a better basketball team in terms of sheer talent than the one they’re taking into this series."
2. They’ve stayed healthy. “Last year, Kyrie Irving played one game [in the finals] and that was the game the Cavs lost in overtime and he fractured his kneecap and that was the end of him. Kevin Love didn’t play at all.
It’s amazing. You go back and look and they made that series go six games and it was LeBron and a bunch of guys, basically."
3. A rejuvenated LeBron James. "LeBron hasn’t had to carry a big load like he did in the last post season," Pluto says. "He says his body feels as good as it has in several years. And I believe that."
James is 2-5 in his career in the finals, and Pluto says, "Some people hold that against him. ... I say there’s three or four of those teams that never should have been in the finals -- he just got them there. But he’s sick of losing in the finals. So you’ll see a very determined LeBron James."
Final thoughts on a perpetual underdog
"If you’re a Cleveland sports fan, you know however it ends, whichever [pro] team finally wins the title, it will be some enormous upset because we know the stars and planets and fate and the establishment of whatever sport it is, lines up against Cleveland sports teams no matter what.
"I probably have not looked forward to an NBA playoff series with the Cavs [except for] back maybe when I was delusional about 20-some years ago when I thought they might knock off Michael Jordan in one of those series.
"But this time, the Cavs have their own No. 23 and it gives them a chance."