How will Kevin Durant handle his matchup with LeBron James?

But starting right before the Western Conference Finals, Kerr returned to the facility on a regular basis, became more involved in coaching meetings and took part in practices. But Durant is operating with a much larger margin for error. San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, the superior player at the time, used to tell tall-and-lanky Durant to be aggressive, to take it to the hoop. In baseball, the Yankees and (NY) Giants played each other from 1921 through '23, back when you needed five wins to bag the Fall Classic. Bowman recalled with a grin.

The Cavaliers are averaging 116.8 points per game this postseason while the Warriors are putting up 118.3 ppg, and the two conference champs have combined for an 18-7 Over/Under count in the playoffs. "Those guys are going to challenge me". It's really that simple.

The long-limbed small forward is still capable of creating his own shot at any time, but he's added more off-the-ball movement since joining the Warriors, just as James did in Miami when he had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as teammates.

Defense has been the question for the Cavaliers all season. The big star for the Giants that year was future Yankees manager Casey Stengel, who hit an inside-the-park homer in the ninth inning to win Game 1 and drove in the only run in Game 3 with another homer.

LeBron has never been better in his postseason career, either, as he's averaging 32.5 points on 56.6 per cent shooting, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in leading his team to a 12-1 record.

Cavs forward Love had said: "The whole underdog thing is amusing to me, because at the end of the day we are defending our title".

Until next year, when we get to do it again, when it's Warriors-Cavaliers IV, and we look back at 2017 and wonder why we were so excited back then, considering we now get this to watch. He was nailing them and playing some of his best ball of the season. Focusing specifically on Game 1 of the NBA Finals over the past 26 years, the Under has been a profitable 9-15-1 O/U since 1991. The Golden State Warriors got the edge over the injury-ravaged Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015. Curry will come into this Finals healthier and playing much better than last season, and Durant will be equally tough to stop.

Curry, who will be opposite of Irving at the point guard position in the Finals, knows just how good his opponent is. Golden State shot 44 percent against the Cavs in the 2015 Finals, 43 percent last season.

Except those Warriors aren't these Warriors. "But these days in between, getting ready for the series, it's natural to go look at last year's film and other things that worked that could possibly work this year".

Durant is the difference.

Thompson, arguably the best shooter in the National Basketball Association after Curry, has missed 42 of his 66 attempts behind the arc this postseason but has contributed in other areas. Now with Durant in that mix in what essentially was Barnes' spot, the Warriors have found different dimensions both offensively and defensively. Now, he's averaging 25.2 points in the playoffs to Curry's 28.6. That includes the 2012 Finals when the two squared off and LeBron got the best of Durant in five games.

Yes, you read that a series that features at least six hall of famers, the tide will shift and succeed based on the effort and knowledge of the coaches, Tyronn Lue for the Cavs and the combination of Steve Kerr and Mike Brown for the Warriors.

"Game 1 will be a telltale sign of how the series will go, and we're excited for that", Irving said.

The defending champions are technically the underdogs in this Finals matchup, but what scary underdogs they are. The Warriors are the first to start it 12-0.

James will push Golden State to the limit.

  • Julie Sanders