In just a few hours the NBA season will reach its climax as the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers face off in one of the most anticipated NBA finals of all time. Because of the attention the game has gotten, there's likely to be a few folks out there interested in experiencing the action who haven't ever kept tabs on the NBA. For that reason I've decided to make a handy guide for all those out there who think Michael Jordan was the King of Pop and Kobe is just a type of beef to assist in your enjoyment of the next four to seven games.
The Golden State Warriors
The top performing team in the league is back in its third consecutive NBA finals, bringing with them the highest win total in the league and an undefeated 12-0 playoff run this year. Despite winning the 2015 NBA title, the team is seeking redemption after losing in heartbreaking fashion in the 2016 finals. After adding several new players (including one game-changing acquisition we'll get to below) this is a team out for vengeance that's looking to cement its legacy as an all time great team.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
The defending world champs, return to do battle with The Warriors one year after their miraculous run brought the team its first ever championship and the first Cleveland sports championship in 52 years. Now one year later the team returns to prove their victory wasn't a fluke, coming off a dominating 12-1 playoff record. With Cleveland's star filled line-up returning after last year, expect a team looking to prove the days of mocking Cleveland sports is over (well except for the Browns).
LeBron James: Arguably the best basketball player currently in the game, he's spent years trying to chase Michael Jordan (not the King of Pop)'s legacy and become the greatest of all time. In his eighth NBA finals (and seventh consecutive appearance), he has a chance to win another title for his hometown as well as bolster his resume by defeating the current top-dog Warriors.
Kevin Durant: A former NBA MVP shocked the basketball world last year when he decided to leave his longtime team to join the Warriors who'd come within a game of winning last year's title. With many expecting nothing less than a championship from Durant and his elite new team, a major storyline to watch is how he will fare under the extreme pressure.
Stephen Curry: A two-time NBA MVP himself, the universally beloved player initially struggled to adjust to his new mega-teammate but now enters the Finals at the top of his game. However Curry has failed to deliver memorable performances in his previous two Finals experiences, putting pressure on the star to deliver and redeem the teams failures last year.
Kyrie Irving: Cleveland's number two weapons, Irving has had some dominating performances in both of the Cavs last two playoff runs. Seven years younger than his teammate James, if Irving continues to play to this level the Cavs could see the ascension of the franchise's future face as James continues to age.
Draymond Green: The Warriors' emotionally volatile big man shocked last year's Finals when a skirmish with James led to a one game suspension that proved devastating to its title run. One year later, expect Green to use his frustration at last year's heartbreak to drive him to bring home the crown this year.
Who wins Round 3? This marks the third consecutive year the Cavs and Warriors have faced each other in the finals (a first in NBA history), with both teams splitting the first two matchups. A major focus will be which team pulls away to win this third matchup, as well as whether or not we should expect a round 4 next summer?
Who Will Coach The Warriors? After suffering complications from back surgery, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been sidelined for most of the playoffs. While the team has continued to dominate without their normal coach, facing their toughest matchup questions remain on whether Kerr will even be able to return during the series.
Will it be entertaining? Much has been made about the dull action the NBA playoffs have offered this year, with both the Cavs and Warriors dominating opponents on their runs to the Finals. While this match up bring some much needed excitement to the proceedings or give fans one last lopsided affair? Only time will tell.
All NBA Finals games will air on ABC with Game 1 starting tonight at 9pm.
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