OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) – The unprecedented fact that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are preparing to square off in their third-straight NBA Finals matchup is a big enough storyline in itself to make this tournament an instant classic.
When the series kicks off Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the ramifications – on both benches – will run much deeper than settling a rubber match between two clubs that have struck up as deep a rivalry as any in the history of professional sports. Each team will send A-list players to the court, all of whom will have legacies on the line in a number of ways.
These Finals have the potential to play out in the likes of which we have never seen.
“It’s exciting,” Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said during Wednesday’s Finals media day. “You take the bus in here over the today, and you see that Finals logo. It’s special.
“It’s something that, being a basketball fan, and having come from a basketball family and having it in my blood, it’s – I grew up watching the Finals on a TV that didn’t have the great service that things like midco plans provide today, so I wanted to be part of the Finals. To come in here today, it’s definitely something that’s not lost on us, and it’s a great opportunity for us.
Showcased at the front of every dialogue leading into Thursday night’s opening tipoff, forged into every storyline, is one the NBA hopes this series will make up for in what has largely been observed as a disappointing postseason tournament – the Cavaliers and Warriors literally demolished their opponents en route to their third consecutive meeting, with Golden State still undefeated and Cleveland having lost just one game these playoffs. The two teams have a combined playoff record this postseason of 24-1. It’s easy to say that this season’s statistics weren’t so hard to predict, especially for these two teams. Bettorbase (https://bettorbase.com/) and other top tipsters in the field probably had no problem handing out tips to bet on the players and teams they knew would rise to the top. The finals, however, can get quite exciting as fans await with bated breath to see what transpires.
The leading men, of course, are the likes of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry for the Warriors and LeBron James for the Cavaliers.
Durant so dramatically announced his move to Golden State last summer when the free agent window opened, this after he and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals after squandering a 3-1 series lead. Durant has reached NBA’s mecca only once before in his career – in 2012, he and the upstart Thunder squared off against none other than LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Durant has, since then, spent five years waiting to return to this stage, enduring one postseason shortcoming after the other.
The stakes for the 28-year-old Durant couldn’t be any more clear: win a championship this season, and his choice to join the Warriors last summer will become validated. For Golden State, a win in this series could potentially serve as the framework of the beginnings of the NBA’s next dynasty.
On the flip side, lose again to James, and failing to win a championship after joining a team that had already won a record 73 games and came within one win of a championship last season, could cast him adrift, similar to what happened to James when his Heat failed to beat the Dallas Mavericks in his first season in Miami in 2011.
“I just take it a day at a time,” Durant said. “I try not to think about, ‘[Was] this year better than the last?’ I know I’ve grown as a player, just through experience, from the last five years, but if I don’t go out there and execute, none of it matters.
“I’m here now. And everything… in the past? It happened, and I learned from it, and hopefully it makes me better this time around.”
Surely, Curry will share a similar sentiment. The 29-year-old two-time league MVP has seen his on-court performance tame in the past two NBA Finals, a far less version of the player that spends the regular season dominating the league. He won back-to-back MVP awards, but was beaten out for the Finals MVP award by Andre Iguodala when the Warriors won two years ago. And after being injured earlier in the playoffs last season he had moments of brilliance he couldn’t sustain as the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead and watched the Cavaliers celebrate a championship here a year ago.
Today, Curry returns to the sport’s mountaintop playing his basketball yet – he has averaged 28.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from three-point range. Not only would a strong performance in the Finals serve to hush the critics who have labeled his regular season production as overhyped, but it would also allow the Warriors to erase the feeling of having a second straight title slip through their fingers last season.
“It’s been a great motivating factor,” he said. “I have great memories of and terrible memories of last year, but they’re both lessons that you can learn going into the series, knowing what it takes to win, how important every possession is, focusing on the details.
“I don’t want to feel what I felt last year, and to do everything in my power to attack every game with that kind of perspective.”