The Cavs and Warriors will face off for Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals on Thursday. The Warriors won the championship in 2015 and the Cavs took back the title in dramatic fashion last year.
Who will come out on top this season? Running the Give and Go with Finals predictions are CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato and producer/reporters Matt Haughton and Paul Hudrick.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers and their rivals in the NBA from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The rematch of the rematch. The Cavs and Warriors have essentially had three years to prepare for this.
LeBron James is a complete beast in the postseason. There are no stats that measure his locked-in mentality and will to win. Kyrie Irving has elevated his game to another level. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are posting better numbers than last season, and the Cavs added Kyle Korver to be a knockdown shooter off the bench.
Yes, the defending champs are a force to be reckoned with. So are the Warriors.
We'll never know how the series last year would have played out if Draymond Green wasn't suspended for Game 5. What we know, is the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead and the Cavs staged a tremendous comeback. What we also know, is the Kevin Durant-less Warriors had the Cavs on the brink of elimination.
The Warriors added Durant to their already-stacked core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The team clicked quickly, an uncertainty with "super team" lineups, and breezed into the Finals. The Cavs have stars in their starting lineup. The Warriors have more. Their floor spacing and shot options will pose greater challenges than the Cavs faced last season.
When you look at the improvements from year-to-year, the addition of Durant tops the Cavs' changes. The Warriors' bench, which has been critical to their success, still maintains the edge in this matchup. The health of Andre Iguodala will be key.
This Finals series should make up for the lack of excitement in the previous playoff rounds. In the end, I see the Warriors reclaiming the championship in six games.
On paper, the Warriors seem unbeatable.
A team that already featured Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and a strong bench, added arguably the second-best player of the last decade in Kevin Durant. Golden State has been on a collision course with the Cavaliers all season.
But, these games aren't played on paper.
LeBron James is on a different planet right now. He might be in another galaxy. James is having his best statistical playoff performance since 2009. More so, other than the Game 3 collapse against the Celtics, James seems to be on a mission.
And let's not forget about what Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are doing. After struggling with his shot over the first nine playoff games (27 percent from three), Irving is 15 for his last 27 from distance. And Love has improved his numbers across the board, finally finding his niche in the Cavs' offense.
In case you haven't guessed, I'm going Cleveland to repeat in seven.
Here we are again. Cleveland and Golden State are set to tip off the NBA Finals' first trilogy.
The Warriors added a former MVP and perhaps the game's most potent offensive player, Kevin Durant, to their record-breaking roster from a season ago. All that resulted from his acquisition is another strong regular-season showing and the first 12-0 playoff run to the Finals in league history.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers' postseason run has been dominant in its own right. After a rocky finish to the regular season, they flipped the switch and blew through the East yet again.
On paper, it would appear that the Warriors just have too many offensive weapons and advantages on defense over the Cavs. After all, it took a historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit for Cleveland to claim last season's title.
But if anyone has another odds-defying performance in them it's LeBron James and Co. Look for the Cavs' added shooting off the bench to play a role as the team claims a second straight title. Cavaliers in seven.