Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

LeBron James' legacy on the line against Warriors

LeBron James' legacy on the line against Warriors

The simple, unprecedented fact that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will square off in a third straight NBA Finals is enough to make this series momentous. Even though we have the best player in the world (LeBron James) on our team, you still can't take it for granted. Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving shoots during an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. In the case of the Warriors and Cavaliers, they've had plenty of time to cultivate a feud that's authentic while still being respectful.

Golden State already was hard enough to stop with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but adding Kevin Durant in the offseason was borderline unfair.

Then these Golden State Warriors came along, assembling one of the most fearsome and star-studded lineups ever assembled and breezed to an NBA-record 12-0 start in the playoffs.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love shared his foe's assessment.

After a 346-day wait, the NBA Finals are back and it's as if nothing has changed. He won back-to-back MVP awards, but was beaten out for the Finals MVP award by Andre Iguodala when the Warriors won two years ago.

With Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, observers are only left to wonder: Could the Warriors, facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third straight year, become the first team to go undefeated to win a title?

Kevin Durant and LeBron James put on a show in the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

"I think that the foundation that's he's laid on that team and influence he's had on that team, stays with them", says Cleveland's Shumpert.

I'm not so sure, and truth be told I think I'd pay close attention to the first game before I chose a side.

Durant, Warriors draw first blood in NBA Finals series
Many have discussed the matchup of LeBron James and Kevin Durant , but there is another that is just as important if not more. The Cavs haven't been far behind, losing only in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final to Boston.

The Warriors played one game that still hung in the balance as the clock wound down this postseason, Game 1 against San Antonio. He shot 14 for 26 in his fifth 30-point performance this postseason, receiving a rousing ovation when he sat down for good with 2:16 remaining.

While there has been little intrigue all season long, a ho-hum regular season and predictable start to the playoffs will soon be a distant memory if the Cavs and Warriors produce a memorable series like previous year. Good thing. almost two years ago he had routine back surgery and lingering complications from the procedure have rendered him unable to do what he's done masterfully since joining the Warriors in 2014 - coach from the bench. But no! I just want to win. "Zaza Pachulia didn't play a ton of minutes, but the minutes he played, especially at the beginning of the game, kind of set the tone for us on the offensive glass". Cleveland nearly certainly needs the Kevin Love of the last round to have a chance at the upset. Golden State will try to keep him in check with Draymond Green, one of the league's best and most versatile defenders.

Giving us subplot two: the Mike Brown revenge finals.

But let's also remember: he's still shooting 36 percent from three in the playoffs this year - it's not like he's awful, he's just not as good as we've come to expect.

ESPN - 23 picked the Warriors, five picked the Cavaliers. "Our relationship consists of if someone needed something, we can always reach out to one another".

"I'm at a point in my life where my priorities are in place", James said.

It has made a big difference for Curry, who missed six playoff games in 2016 because of ankle and knee injuries and was never 100 percent after that.

Curry sported a fresh haircut for the occasion and the two-time reigning MVP initially wore a black sleeve on his shooting arm to protect a tender elbow that still had some swelling, but he quickly removed it and found his stroke.

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