James spoke Wednesday on the eve of his eighth consecutive NBA Finals appearance, and ninth overall, as he prepares to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers into a fourth straight championship series against the Golden State Warriors, who seek their third title in four seasons. It doesn't take much more than a second look, however, to realize that Durant is doing things that no Warrior has ever done and, in some cases, no National Basketball Association player has ever done. The Cavaliers are looking for their second-ever championship and LeBron James' fourth. Many have suggested that this is the worst supporting cast James has had in any of his nine career appearances in the finals: Jeff Green, a player nearly synonymous with failing to meet expectations, was the second-best player in Cleveland's upset of the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. Cleveland has reason to be cautious with Love, given his history of concussions. The Cleveland Cavaliers opened as a +650 underdog in the finals. In the early numbers that's up 7% over last year's Game 1 between the winning Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators. Andre Iguodala's knee issue, which kept him out for the last four games, is important for the 2015 Finals MVP's two-way role but the Warriors remain more loaded and tested without him. James and the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the 2011 NBA Finals as -175 favorites.
If George or James decide they want to play in Houston, the easiest way to make it happen without the team sacrificing too much depth would be for either player to pick up his player option for next season before the end of June and engineer a trade. As the season played out, though, that predictable NBA Finals matchup seemed awfully unpredictable.
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At 33 and in his 15th season, James has played in each of the Cavs' 100 games. No, but if Cleveland is going to have any chance at pulling off the upset, this is where it all starts. I'm glad. I wanted to see them another time.
Even with Iguodala sidelined, Golden State has a preponderance of talent.
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This puts the Warriors in a familiar position. By seeming not to care about the game in which they are playing, regardless of the opponent or the time of year. Where there were a number of Celts who were basically saying the hell with it and driving blindly into traffic versus the Bucks and launching quick, offense-busting treys at the Cavs, Golden State had to survive a mis-step by a far better player (Kevin Durant breaking plays) to go iso against Houston.
LeBron James responded to critics wondering if it was good to have the same two teams in the NBA Finals four years in a row. Golden State could have really used his calming presence, and his injury prevented the use of the Hamptons 5 and resulted in minutes for Kevon Looney, Nick Young, and Quinn Cook.
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