If the NBA season was one thing, it was predictable. The Cleveland Cavaliers punched their ticket to the NBA Finals, where they will meet the Golden State Warriors for the third straight year.
The Cavs and Warriors have split their previous two meetings, with Golden State winning in six games in 2015 and Cleveland overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win in 2016.
The matchup has a distinctly different feel in 2017, though. For starters, there will be no surprises. Both teams will enter the series with at least a week of rest when the games begin on June 1 at Oracle Arena. With every inch of film dissected, both teams will receive the other’s best punch.
Perhaps most importantly, the Warriors have Kevin Durant this season. Even though the Cavaliers will trot out their best lineup to date, so too will the Warriors. This is not the same team the Cavs have faced the past two seasons, but LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are also peaking at the right time.
“I'm very happy about our accomplishment,” James said after the game. “Golden State, they've been the best team in our league for the last three years, and then they added an MVP (Kevin Durant). That's all I can give you right now.”
There will be history associated with this Finals too. The Warriors have yet to lose a game this postseason, entering the Finals at a perfect 12-0. The Cavs have lost just one game, which came in their third tilt against the Boston Celtics.
"[The Warriors] are a really good team, we have a ton of respect for them," guard Kyle Korver said. "I know there's a little bit of history with these two teams in the Finals the last few years. Right now we are going to enjoy this.”
James is entering the series with some eye-popping numbers. He surpassed Michael Jordan for playoff points scored in the series-clinching win over Boston. James has totaled 5,995 career playoff points, which is eight better than Jordan’s mark. James has also been in the NBA Finals in seven straight seasons.
The Warriors won 67 games this season, a year after setting the NBA mark for best record (73-9). The Cavs finished second in the Eastern Conference with 51 wins, although the two teams split the regular season series. The Warriors, however, are the prohibitive favorites to win the title.