LeBron James and Kevin Durant

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Cavs-Warriors in the NBA Finals... Again

May 29, 2018 - 3:19 pm

By Tim Barbalace

The NBA Finals tips off Thursday night in Oakland as the Cavs and Warriors will play in the championship for an unprecedented fourth time in a row.  This year was more of a challenge in the playoffs for both teams than in 2017.

The Cavs and Warriors faced elimination games before reaching the Finals for the first time since 2015-16.  In 2017, both teams lost one game combined before the Finals and this year they lost 11.  Cleveland and Golden State also had to come from 10+ points down win Game 7s on the road in the Conference Finals.

There have never been three consecutive Finals matchups before the Cavs and Warriors.  In fact, it has happened just once in each of the NFL, NHL and MLB (Giants-Yankees in 1921-1923, Lions-Browns in 1952-1954, Canadiens-Red Wings 1954-1956).  No league has ever had four consecutive championship matchups until now.

It's undeniable what we are seeing may never happen again.  It's also noteworthy that this marks LeBron James' 8th consecutive Finals appearance, tied for the third-longest streak in NBA history.  Some fans say that they get tired of watching the same teams compete for a championship each year, but you have to respect greatness. 

The Warriors just beat a strong Rockets team on the road in part because there are so many different players that can step up.  Kevin Durant led the way in Game 1, Steph Curry came alive in Game 3, and Klay Thompson drained nine threes in Game 6.  Golden State also boasts a top 10 defensive rating and bench net rating. 

Cleveland has dealt with struggles defensively and inconsistent play from role players, but LeBron James continues to get it done in year 15.  James had 46 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Game 6 against the Celtics and did just as well in Game 7 putting up a 35/15/9 stat line.  James will need those type of efforts all series against the Warrior to be able to win his fourth title.

Golden State has far more talent, and depth than Cleveland and that will ultimately be the difference in the series.  I see the Warriors taking the series in five, but nothing would surprise me.  If the Cavs continue to give strong effort defensively and can get solid performances from Kyle Korver, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Jeff Green they can make the series competitive, but those are big ifs.

The first three Finals between these teams have created plenty of special moments including the Warriors first title, the Cavs coming back from a 3 to 1 series deficit and LeBron James leading all five major statistical categories in 2016.  Cavs-Warriors Part IV is sure to have more fireworks in store as Golden State goes for their third championship in four years.  We could also be watching James' final games as a Cavalier.