The NBA Finals tip-off tonight at 9 p.m. ET where the Toronto Raptors will play the Golden State Warriors at Scotiabank Arena. With the Warriors appearing in their fifth straight NBA Finals, I did a Q&A with Andy Liu of WarriorsWorld Radio and the Light Years Podcast. There’s no better person to talk Warriors basketball with. You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndyKHLiu. Here’s the Q&A.
Dylan Burd: The Warriors are headed to their fifth straight NBA Finals appearance. Where does this playoff run rank amongst all of them in terms of the most fun/enjoyable for you?
Andy Liu: Most enjoyable is always the first one. The Warriors finding out just how great they can be is about as good as it gets. This one probably ranks 3rd behind the first and the first KD year with them going 16-1 and humming on all cylinders. This season has been quite different with star players battling through injuries, but so far so good on the perseverance part and isn’t that what we want from our champions, even if they’re the most talented of all time?
Dylan Burd: Out of all the teams the Warriors have played in the playoffs throughout the last 5 years, the Raptors might be the best one defensively. Do you have any concerns about how the Warriors will handle this?
Andy Liu: They may be the best defensive team because of regular season statistics or even because they shut down the Milwaukee Bucks but they haven’t played in the Finals yet and they’ve never played the Golden State Warriors. The OKC and Cavs team in 2016 were definitely better and scarier, more athletic and they knew all the weak points of Steph and company. My concern is when Kevin Durant will come back because without him, the Warriors are beatable, with him, the Warriors are likely the greatest team ever.
Dylan Burd: Do you think that Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins will play in the series? If so, what game do you think they’ll be back and how will that change the series?
Andy Liu: Kevin Durant should be back during Games 3 or 4 depending on how the series goes. Demarcus Cousins might even be active Game 1. With KD back, that’s another person the Raptors have to tilt their defense towards and someone that takes Kawhi off Steph, creating more mismatches than they can handle. With Cousins, he should be incorporated in the bench unit, allowing the Warriors to stay afloat just enough in non-Curry minutes.
Dylan Burd: Who’s the biggest X-Factor in the series for the Warriors? For the Raptors?
Andy Liu: Andre Iguodala’s health. He’s probably the best person against Kawhi and someone if he is making shots, pushes the Warriors to invincibility. Kyle Lowry will have to defend Steph and make enough shots to matter on offense. That’s a heavy load for someone that has never been here before and hasn’t necessarily shown the talent or mental toughness to play this well against the best guard in the league.
Dylan Burd: Rank Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in order from best to worst.
Dylan Burd: Do you think that the outcome of the series impacts Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard in free agency?
Andy Liu: No for Klay and Kawhi, think Klay stays and Kawhi goes. Yes for Kevin Durant who depending on how he is perceived after the series, could swing how the NBA looks yet again.
Dylan Burd: Series Prediction – Winner, Games, MVP and anything else you’d like to include.
Andy Liu: Warriors in 5, Steph MVP