The Cleveland Cavaliers may be the reigning National Basketball Association champions, but when they tip off Game 1 of The Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California tonight, they will do so as an underdog against the vaunted Golden State Warriors. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 126-91.
The Cavaliers are defending champions after James sparked the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, rallying Cleveland from 3-1 down to win last year's best-of-seven series in a dramatic winner-take-all showdown at Oakland, California.
Legacies will be on the line in this series.
While LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet, Cleveland's older roster can not make enough 3 pointers or play good enough team defense to beat the Warriors 4 times in 7 games. With LeBron James on the Cleveland side, this will be his seventh straight National Basketball Association finals appearance. Golden State won two years ago, when Cleveland was without the services of power forward Kevin Love and largely without star point guard Kyrie Irving.
When you have two incredible teams, it becomes pretty irrelevant.
Total viewership for the 2017 playoffs is up over past year, despite a high number of blowouts and predictable outcomes - particularly in the Western Conference, where Golden State swept through its bracket with 16 consecutive wins and no losses.
Brown knows James extremely well from their days together in Cleveland, and he will look to exploit the star's weaknesses in any way he can. Will key players added to a roster help or hurt for this years finals rematch? This year, we can only hope that both teams are at full strength for all seven games or however many it takes.
"He's special in so many ways", said Love.
"I'm not in the "prove people wrong, silence critics" department no more", James said.
The teams split two games in the regular season, the Cavs with a 109-108 victory on Christmas Day in Cleveland, the Warriors a 126-91 win on January 16 in Oakland.
Brown, who once coached James with the Cavaliers, has emphasized perseverance when dealing with James, especially since Kevin Durant will be dealing with him much of the time.
Love respects Green as the lynchpin of Golden State's defensive schemes. However, now that Durant is on the Warriors, that means that the Cavs have to decide who LeBron would most effective guarding. Both of these players are very streaky shooters and make this Cleveland bench even more risky than it already is. Smith has had a quiet postseason, playing more than 30 minutes and taking more than eight shots just once in the Eastern Conference finals.
According to ESPN, Durant could take less money than the potential max extension that he could have earned in order to keep other players with the Warriors.
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