Cavs the champs but Warriors the favorites in the NBA Finals

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The Golden State Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in.

The 2017 Finals will be his second trip -having faced (and lost to) LeBron James and the Heat as a member of the Thunder in 2012.

In 2015, James carried the Cavaliers on his back when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love went down with injuries.

This year, LeBron logged 532 minutes in the first three rounds, as the Cavs went 12-1. In 2016, Stephen Curry had a sore knee, Andrew Bogut was out for games 6 and 7, and Draymond Green was suspended for Game 6.

Not only do the Warriors have a healthy Curry and a "tame" Green, but they reloaded this past offseason by adding the second-best player in the league in Kevin Durant. "But I think we got a great group of guys, headlined by one of the best guys to ever do it".

Beaten a year ago by Cleveland's historic comeback, the Warriors will try to avenge that defeat and get back on top when they face the Cavaliers again, the first time two teams have met three straight times in the NBA Finals.

Jack Fitzpatrick: Coming off a historic 3-1 collapse, the Warriors needed to get bigger in the offseason in order to matchup with the size and strength of Cleveland. Durant is a slender shooter, not a post player. "The way ratings go in these things, two main factors play in - the matchup of teams and the excitement of play". Their size will cause mismatches all over the place and send the heavily favored Warriors home disappointed for a second straight season.

Almost a year since he sat at the same podium inside Oracle Arena and addressed Muhammad Ali's impact as an activist following the heavyweight champion's death, James discussed the daily challenges of being black in the U.S. The 10th-year forward - drafted 2nd overall by the Sonics in 2007 - fit in seamlessly in his first year with the Warriors, netting career-highs in shooting, blocks and boards.

One of the few things that hasn't gone right for Golden State this postseason has been Klay Thompson's shooting.

But none of that will matter to Cleveland since James, who stretched his Finals streak to an astonishing seven straight years dating back to his time in Miami, is playing the best playoff basketball of a career that already includes three NBA titles and a trio of Finals MVP awards. "And hopefully we keep it going, but we fully respect and are aware that this team that we're playing, they're the champions and we're not", Kerr said.

The Warriors led by as many as 24 and blew the game open with a 13-0 run to start the third quarter. Then they took out their revenge in the 2014 Finals against the Heat, winning in five games. "I think when you're the prohibitive favorite against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, that means you're a heck of a team, and they sure are". But it would be a heavy lift for this year's series to match last year's in ratings. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Oakland. There are a lot of great storylines heading into the series between two teams that have become very familiar with each other over the last three years, the biggest being the Warriors adding superstar Kevin Durant last offseason. I genuinely liked the Warriors and their players. Game seven, which was decided in the last minute of play, averaged 31 million viewers, making it the third most-watched game in National Basketball Association history.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Watching Part II of the Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals trilogy last spring, Kyle Korver came to a realization. "So we'll see. It worked pretty well in Game 4 of last series".

They figure to be electrified for the opener after watching the Cavaliers celebrate their first crown on the Warriors' court in a seventh-game thriller. In Game 4, he scored 21 of his 42 points in the second half to help the Cavs overcome a double-digit first-half deficit. "If you don't have a game seven, it's hard to do that". So that was a little icing on the cake for myself to just let me know that everything I've done, it results in this. The Cavs will repeat as National Basketball Association champions. Even though we have the best player in the world (LeBron James) on our team, you still can't take it for granted. Regular-season games across the four networks averaged 1.2 million viewers, down 6% from the 2015-16 season.

"No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough", said James, who was visibly shaken.