Will the Golden State Warriors coast to their third straight championship and fourth in five years? Will Kawhi Leonard take over and lift the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first title? And which star will take home Finals MVP honors?
Heading into Game 1 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC), our NBA experts are making their picks for the series.
The case for…
Warriors in 5
Golden State has proven since its championship run started in 2015 that winning on the road and dealing with adversity is part of its DNA. That mental makeup is why the Warriors will steal a game in Toronto, take care of business at Oracle and finish off this series north of the border. — Bobby Marks
Warriors in 6
A six-game series is the most likely for the lower seed to win. I think statistical models that either consider this matchup a toss-up or give the Raptors the edge are underrating how well the Warriors have played without Kevin Durant. And if this series is close and goes long, well, that increases the chances of Durant returning to help push Golden State over the top. — Kevin Pelton
Warriors in 7
This is an extremely tough call, especially with Durant’s status up in the air. Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and the Raptors are a real threat, but the Warriors are still outstanding without Durant, have much more Finals experience and are very well rested for the first time in a while. The return of Durant could put a challenging defensive wrinkle in the middle of the series for Toronto. Stephen Curry has always played great against his dad’s old team, too. Leonard’s and Durant’s health will factor in the outcome. — Marc Spears
Raptors in 7
The Warriors have an obvious championship pedigree, and easily could win this series, and get their three-peat. But the uncertainty about Kevin Durant‘s return — coupled with the Raptors having home-court advantage, arguably the best player in the series in Kawhi Leonard and the best defensive unit that Golden State has seen during its dynastic run — is enough to tip the scales in Toronto’s direction to say the Raptors will win their first championship. — Tim Bontemps
The Raptors are built to give the Warriors difficulties. They have an outstanding defensive frontline that features three Defensive Player of the Year award-winners plus a second-place finish spread among three players, none of whom were the best defender on the team this season — that honor went to Pascal Siakam. The Raptors are top-10 in the NBA in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage, and are also top 10 in fewest 3-pointers and lowest 3-point percentage allowed. They have the positional diversity to play every style from traditional big to small-ball, with plus players at every position. — Andre Snellings