Cavs the champs but Warriors the favorites in the NBA Finals

Last year's Western Conference Finals featured a seven-game series between the Warriors and Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder.

April 14, 2004: James scored 17 points against the New York Knicks in the final game of his rookie season.

The Golden State Warriors are going to have trouble once again guarding LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

The Cavaliers' defense was a problem for most of the season. At the start of the year, National Basketball Association 2K17's simulation had the Cavs beating the Warriors in seven games.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors face off tonight at 6PM PST for the third-straight year. Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love smiles as he fields questions before an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in Oakland, Calif.

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This NBA Finals is in uncharted territory. They took a chance on me and I learned how to be a professional and I learned how to stay ready even when you don't know when your number's going to be called.

The Warriors and Cavaliers are two competitive teams and what makes this final even more special is the presence of superstars in both the camps who will take to the court. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in O.

"I think they're the prohibitive favorite", ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said.

"I can't go out there and do everything on my own or I can't go out there and just let my teammates do all the work for me", Durant said Wednesday, a day before the series opener.

The Warriors are 12-0 in the playoffs and have won 27 of their last 28 overall. After averaging 30 points per game on 50 percent shooting and 45 percent from 3-point range in the regular season, Curry averaged 22 points on 40 percent shooting in the Finals. Even with an onslaught of injuries and while being incredible strides away from their full potential, the Jazz beat a veteran LA Clippers team in the first round of the playoffs. Listening to the guys who are advising us novice bettors is how I got to be pretty good at picking winners. We could see that same familiar picture at the end of Game 1, the one where Curry's mouthguard hangs from his mouth as he sips Gatorade, sits in a chair and cheers on whatever reserve is dribbling out the clock. Cleveland nearly certainly needs the Kevin Love of the last round to have a chance at the upset. But Steve is so conscientious about the players - and you know the story line and all these other things - that he wants to make sure that he feels good enough to come back and do it on a full-time basis and not rock the boat with anyone or not cause a distraction from our team. Given their ability to spread the floor and score in transition, I'm going with Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Golden State in six games. The contract was worth $20 million where the first four years were guaranteed and the last year somewhat guaranteed. The Warriors, who won the title in 2015, are out for revenge.

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It is their third straight finals match-up, Cleveland winning 4-3 last season, Golden State 4-2 in 2015. The Cavs, however, have the best player in the world in LeBron James, a trusty sidekick in Kyrie Irving, and a bevy of shooters and defenders to throw at Golden State.

"What happened in the past in my mind doesn't really count now unless we go out and finish the deal", he said. "You work all summer, you work all season for so many years in a row hoping to get to this point".

NO WORRY FROM CURRY: After a knee injury in the playoffs and a quick turnaround following the conference finals, Curry wasn't in top shape last June.

Ahead of this year's series, Curry says he has some swelling in his right elbow and will probably wear a shooting sleeve.

No blame for LeBron after Celtics no-show, says Cavaliers coach Lue
Irving kept Cleveland within striking distance while James was out by scoring 12 points over the final 5:11 of the second quarter. The point guard had 17 points and six assists in the first half, when he was 5-for-6 from the field and ideal on four 3-pointers.

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