One graphic shows how differently the Cavaliers and Warriors built their rosters

Heading into these Finals, the Warriors have more pressure to win than a year ago.

In the last four seasons, Curry has racked up some major accolades earning two regular-season MVP awards, an NBA title, two All-NBA First Team selections (2015, 2016), two All-NBA Second Team nods (2014, 2017), and all four of his All-Star Game selections.

The first came in the first round of the playoffs when the Boston Celtics' Kelly Olynyk yanked Kevin Love's shoulder out of its socket. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Irving had been in and out of the lineup after being diagnosed with tendinitis in the knee. Also, he was asked during his group session with reporters if he still tries to prove doubters wrong - the Warriors are heavily favored in the series - and he said "no, I'm not in that department anymore". Pachulia is back and ready to go after missing two games in the Western Conference finals with a heel injury. LeBron James may be the best and most valuable player on the Cavs, but Irving is the most clutch.

"I was living those odds", he said. "I got a promotion when I got to the 30s".

Then last season, the Cavaliers won in seven games, and the only notable missing player was Draymond Green, suspended for Game 5 after crimes against humanity. That experience helped him learn something important, he said. "I came back for a reason. I never take these moments for granted". If you think the addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors will be too much for the Cavs to handle and Golden State will mop the floor with Cleveland, than fading James might be the way to go.

Riley was given the opportunity to wish James well on Saturday, and his message was lukewarm at best.

ESPN - 23 picked the Warriors, five picked the Cavaliers. The series opens Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

Love respects Green as the lynchpin of Golden State's defensive schemes.

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: Small forward LeBron James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in last season's Finals and has been superb this postseason with averages of 32.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

James won his first National Basketball Association title with a dominant performance against Oklahoma City.

Riley did answer, but with a twist, as the Hall of Famer made reference to the Los Angeles Lakers teams he coached. Or is the Finals the time to fade the "King"?

Curry said there's "not a chance" he'd shave that beard before the NBA Finals are over.

Add to that mix veterans like Deron Williams, Channing Frye, Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith and the Cavs are one of the few teams in the league that have the firepower to stay with the Warriors.

"I'll just approach basketball like I always have, which is with love and care and hard work and we'll see what happens".

The Cavs held their last intense practice Monday afternoon. The difference maker could be whether they can shut the other down on defense.

Despite the hype and the presence of national media, Lue said it can be productive.

  • Julie Sanders