NBA Finals: We may be watching the greatest rivalry in NBA history, the Golden State Warriors having a 12–0 postseason record are going to battle for the national title against defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers snapping an NBA playoff record-tying 13 game winning streak.
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“They are a great team. They are the champs,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re trying to take what they took from us last year.”
The epic squads collide in an unprecedented third consecutive NBA Finals starting Thursday at Oakland, with the host Warriors and oddsmakers favorite in the hotly anticipated best-of-seven showdown against a Cleveland team that made the greatest comeback in Finals history to defeat them a year ago.
The Warriors spoiled James’ fairytale return to Cleveland from Miami by downing an injury-hit Cavaliers squad for the 2015 crown, their first in 40 years. Going into the 2017 NBA Finals, LeBron James says he has nothing left to prove.
Golden State then won a record 73 regular-season games and seized 3-1 finals lead before James sparked Cleveland to victory in the final three games to claim the title, leading every major statistical category in an unprecedented, Herculean feat.
“You have to appreciate the position that you’re in because it’s never, ever guaranteed,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “That’s something that we’ve learned.”
“We’re excited,” Durant said. “But we’re not satisfied.”
The Cavaliers struggled to a 7-10 record in March, closing the season 12-15 with four consecutive losses. But Cleveland has gone 12-1 in the playoffs with an average win margin of 13.6 points, James becoming the all-time NBA playoff top scorer in the process.
“We have another level,” James said. “And we believe we can get there.”
Not since the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s has the NBA seen a rivalry so intense, this one involving seven of the past eight NBA Most Valuable Player award winners in James with four, Curry with two and Durant with one.
“A lot of people wanted to see Boston and the Lakers back in the day,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Nowadays a lot of people want to see Golden State-Cavs. It’s two of the teams playing some of the best basketball. So why not want to see it again?
“Last year had some of the best ratings in NBA history. With them adding Durant and the way they’re playing, the way we’re playing, it can be even higher.”
James, who is 3-4 in finals appearances, uses Jordan’s feats as a measuring stick to motivate his own bid to become legendary.
In his 14th season, James has become a principal in the debate between his fans and the Michael Jordan claque over who is the Greatest of All-Time. James calls Jordan the “ghost” he is chasing.
Muhammad Ali in boxing, Michael Phelps in swimming, Babe Ruth in baseball, Wayne Gretzky in hockey (or was it Gordie Howe?) and Jim Brown in football are fairly safe choices. So was Jordan, once. In the NBA these days, the GOAT debate, driven by Bill Laimbeer’s effusive praise for James, is heating up.
That’s why a historic 12-0 playoff start won’t mean much if it doesn’t culminate in a crown. You need to know NBA Finals 2017, NBA Finals live stream, Cavs vs Warriors, NBA, TV channels, schedule, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Durant, game, scores of NBA Finals
“It’s a really cool accomplishment, one you can talk about for a second, but you’ve got to be able to turn the page and get ready for the gauntlet of winning four more games,” Curry said.
“It’s a great run – 12-0 is great. But it doesn’t mean anything going into the next series and we have to understand that.”