NBA Playoffs Preview: Cavaliers at Warriors Game 1

Cavaliers at Warriors Game 1 Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season and the series begins Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won two of the first three meetings and the latest matchup will likely begin with Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (concussion) sitting out.

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Cleveland star LeBron James doesn’t understand why there is complaining that the two teams are once again sharing the Finals’ stage. “Teams have had their opportunities to beat the Cavs over the last four years, and teams have had the opportunities to beat the Warriors over the last four years,” James told reporters at his Wednesday press conference. “If you want to see somebody else in the postseason, then you got to beat them.” There also has been a lot of chatter about how James lacks a supporting case – an odd notion for a team that is in the NBA Finals and one Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn’t prescribe to in the least. “You don’t get to the Finals with one man, no matter how good that one man is,” Kerr said at his press conference. “So we have great respect for the Cavs, their resiliency. The fact that they’re here four years in a row – we know exactly how hard that is. So we’re preparing for a lot more than just LeBron, that’s for sure.”

TV: 9 p.m. ET, ABC

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Love suffered a concussion in Friday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics and has yet to pass the protocol, and coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t know if he will be available. Love, a five-time All-Star, was seen on the practice floor Wednesday and Lue did indicate that he will start the contest if he is cleared to play. Love’s presence would alleviate some pressure off James, who is averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists in a stellar postseason.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Veteran defensive stopper Andre Iguodala (left leg) will miss his fifth consecutive contest, leaving Golden State without a player who typically shadows James. “Well, he was MVP of the series in 2015, largely because he took that role on of guarding LeBron, but also because of what he did offensively,” Kerr told reporters in reference to Iguodala’s importance. “He’s doing a little bit better. Some encouraging signs, but we have ruled him out for Game 1.” Kerr said the duty of guarding James will be spread among at least four players – forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and guards Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Warriors PG Stephen Curry made 25 3-pointers over the final five games of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets and averaged 28.2 points during the stretch.

2. James has topped 40 points seven times this postseason, one shy of Jerry West’s postseason record set in 1965.

3. Golden State SF Kevin Durant is averaging 29 points in the postseason and has topped 20 in all 17 games.

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