For the fourth straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will face each other in the NBA Finals. The action begins Thursday night (9 p.m. EST, ABC) at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Despite the Cavs and Warriors meeting in the Finals for the fourth consecutive year — and the Warriors entering the series as the heavy favorite— LeBron James and Kevin Durant don’t agree with some fans saying that the matchup has gotten stale.
Regardless of whether fans are tired of seeing the Cavs and Warriors in the Finals again or not, King James says each squad earned its right to the NBA’s grandest stage — as evidenced by each of the teams’ gritty Game 7 wins in their respective Conference Finals.
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"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 the media Wednesday, as reported by ESPN, the day before making his eighth straight Finals appearance. "If you want to see somebody else in the postseason, then you got to beat them. Or in the Finals, in that case.
KD, who joined Golden State as a free agent in 2016 and instantly entered the Warriors-Cavs’ rivalry, is as excited about the two teams meeting in the Finals this year as he was last year.
"I think it's great," Durant said Wednesday, as reported by ESPN. "You just get a great set of players on the court. I mean, it may not be as suspenseful as a lot of people may want it to be or as drama-filled, but that's what you've got movies and music for."
The Warriors enter the Finals after rallying from a 3-2 deficit to defeat James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. Durant averaged 30.4 points per game over that series.
Without the services of Andre Iguodala, who will miss Game 1 with a leg contusion, Durant may have the unenviable task of having to guard James from the opening tip of the Finals.
Playing in every game this season, the 33-year-old King James is averaging a staggering 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game through these playoffs. That absurd output can be attributed to his undeniable greatness in addition to the lack of consistent high-scorers behind him on this year’s Cavs squad.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ four All-Stars (Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson) are intact, looking to lead Dub City to its third championship in the past four years and into dynasty status.
James and the Cavs will be aided, though, by the return of All-Star forward Kevin Love, who cleared the league’s concussion protocol and will play in Game 1.
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Those not watching Game 1 of the Finals on ABC can live-stream it on WatchESPN.com or the Watch ESPN App. In fact, the entire Finals can be live-streamed via either of those options.
Here are some free live stream options. Links will be updated closer to game time.