Rick BarryI’ve lived in Atlanta for the last 24 years, but all of my formative years were spent in San Francisco and Ohio.   So I’m vested in and looking forward to the Warriors/Cavaliers match up for the NBA Championship, beginning this week.  It stung a bit that the Cavs literally squashed our Atlanta Hawks en route to the Finals, but even I couldn’t deny that Lebron and company not only were the better team, but also seem to have a destiny about them.  Meanwhile, out in Oakland, the Warriors don’t look like they have a weakness, and they definitely appear to be the more battle tested team – having to stave off game efforts from the Grizzlies and Rockets along the way.

Here are a few of the matchups that I’ll be keeping an eye on:

The MVP Match Up – Lebron vs. Curry: Does 4-time NBA MVP Lebron James use his “been here, done plenty of this Finals stuff” swagger and put his team on his shoulders and take the city of Cleveland to to their first EVER championship in the modern Super Bowl/NBA Finals era?  Or does 2015 MVP Stephen Curry shoot the lights out (which he can literally do, see below) and lead a barrage of offense that Lebron and his “not overly athletic” comrades can’t keep up with? The Cavs run everything through Lebron, for better or worse…usually the former.  He can get to the “front of the rim” and either shoot or find open shooters better than anyone since Magic Johnson. The Warriors get Curry 15-20 shots per game, but they’re more dependent on a team concept, and thus may be less susceptible to an “off game”.  However, Lebron makes every teammate on the court better and his basketball IQ and court awareness are the best we’ve seen this side of Magic and Michael. Advantage: Cavs

The Home Court Advantage: 40+ Years of Futility ends for Someone: The timing of Lebron returning home, in the midst of the “Johnny Football” debacle in Cleveland this past Fall, was a huge shot in the arm for the city.  I wrote about it here.  The Browns won an NFL Championship (pre-Super Bowl era) in 1964, but the city hasn’t sniffed a championship since.  The city is riveted and starving for a championship. Meanwhile, the Warriors have had their own bout with futility, with no NBA Championship since 1975 when Rick Barry shot free throws underhand (and set the record for the highest free throw percentage of all time). Oracle Arena in Oakland is regarded as the loudest venue in the NBA.  The Warriors were lights out at home this season (39-2!) and will be guaranteed to have 4 of 7 games at home if this series goes the distance.  Advantage: Warriors

The Supporting Cast Battle: Lebron has a better supporting cast in Cleveland this time around, even with Kevin Love sidelined. J.R. Smith has been the hottest 3 point shooter in this post season not named Steph Curry. Tristan Thompson has shown that he can bang with anyone down low and can neutralize the Warriors inside game. Iman Shumpert is long enough to at least stick a hand in between Curry and his shot.  Matthew Dellavedova is there to run recklessly into players on the other team – a disruptive pest. But the Warriors have the “Splash Brothers” – Steph Curry and Klay Thompson – the most lethal scoring combo in the league. The Cavs don’t have the athletes on the perimeter to defend them both. In Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green, the Warriors have two big bodies under the basket that have the ability to keep Lebron off the front of the rim for good portions of a game. Advantage: Warriors

I’m not a big NBA fan, but this will be a very fun series to watch. If Lebron and company pull this off (and they can) it will make for an all-time storyline. The sum of the Warriors’ parts is larger though, and the home court advantage should make the difference. Prediction: Warriors in 7

….and the San Francisco Bay Area knows how to market it’s teams.