Gordon Hayward’s season ended almost a month ago, but that doesn’t mean basketball has stopped for the Utah Jazz forward.
Before Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, Hayward took to his blog and broke down the third matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
While countless bloggers and journalists have shared their thoughts on the Finals, Hayward provided unique perspective, having been swept by the Warriors in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs this season.
Hayward, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 should he decline the option on the last year of his current contract, didn’t deviate from the common prediction in his piece.
“As far as what I think happens, I see the Warriors winning in five, maybe six games,” Hayward opined in the blog post. “They just have too many options. Not only are they historically good offensively, they’re almost as good defensively too. As long as they stay healthy, what they have is just too much, and I think they’ll walk away with the title.”
Hayward suggested that Golden State’s offense, particularly its ability to get out and run in the open court, might be too much for Cleveland to overcome. If Game 1 is any indication of how the rest of the series will play out, Hayward will have exactly foreseen the outcome.
The Warriors scored 27 fast break points while the Cavaliers were only able to score nine.
Kevin Durant, who Hayward called the “best offensive player in the world,” was the primary catalyst of Golden State's offense, as he finished the game with 38 points on 14-of-26 shooting from the field. At least four of his made baskets came from momentum-changing dunks, helping the Warriors win by 22.
Perhaps even more impressively, Hayward noted Golden State's often underrated defense, which gave the Cavaliers trouble right after tip-off.
“The crazy part is that the Warriors are the top defensive team in the league, too,” Hayward wrote. “Everyone talks about their offense, but their defense is just as good. So I’m interested to see how well Cleveland can score on them.”
Cleveland was held to just 34.9 percent shooting in the first meeting. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love made a mere 41 percent of their combined shots.
Golden State's length disrupted Cleveland’s offense, and James wasn't able to initiate much in the half court or create baskets off drive-and-kicks, as Hayward suggested the Cavaliers would attempt to do.
Game 2 of the finals will air on Sunday at 6 p.m. MDT.