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updated: 5/30/2018 8:27 PM

Same tired stories: James vs. Jordan, Warriors vs. Cavs

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  • Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates as his team pulls away from the Boston Celtics near the end of the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 27, 2018, in Boston.

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates as his team pulls away from the Boston Celtics near the end of the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 27, 2018, in Boston.

 
 

What's more tiresome: A fourth-straight Warriors-Cavaliers matchup in the NBA Finals, or the latest revival of the LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan debate?

Tough call, but NBA fans who check in on the four-match -- especially those in Chicago who flatly refuse any "LeBron is GOAT" arguments -- should feel free to appreciate James, however the Finals turn out.

This much can be said with some certainty: James is playing as well right now as anyone ever has. At 33, he's averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists during the playoffs, while reaching the Finals for the eighth straight year.

James continues to add to his game while never slowing down. In 15 professional seasons, he never has missed significant time with an injury, all while making deep runs in the playoffs every year and playing in several Olympics.

This season his 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds were career highs.

Five years ago, it made no sense to compare James to Jordan because they were such different players. Jordan was the ultimate alpha scorer, the guy always tasked with hitting the big shot. James was a perfect version of Scottie Pippen, the team player who did a little bit of everything.

Kobe Bryant was a much better comparison to Jordan. Hitting clutch shots late in games is one of the most difficult tests in the NBA, and James wasn't good at it. Now he is, but adding that last piece to his game doesn't make him the best player ever.

I think the best argument in the Jordan-James debate is the fact that Jordan dominated his era. In his peak years, Jordan never failed to win the championship. Never came close. The Bulls played a Game 7 just twice during the six title runs.

James is stretching his prime to unprecedented levels, but if Golden State wins this series, the Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green crew will have their third championship, the same number James has won.

So if any Bulls fans get caught up in the argument, they have plenty of talking points.

Keep in mind, James has been amazing in these playoffs, so it's only natural for a younger generation to call him the best ever and not really consider great things done by Jordan, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jerry West and others.

The other storyline for these Finals is the repetition.

Not even the Lakers and Celtics played each other four years in a row. Television ratings have been strong in the playoffs, but you've got to think they're going to drop, not only because fans are tired of this matchup, but also Golden State is a heavy favorite.

James again dominated the East, but his flawed Cavaliers roster may be no match for the most super of superteams. The Warriors showed a little bit of vulnerability by falling behind Houston 3-2 in the Western Conference finals and getting the benefit of a Chris Paul hamstring injury.

Each team has injury questions heading into Thursday's Game 1.

Cleveland's Kevin Love has been in concussion protocol since a collision with Jayson Tatum in Game 6 of the East finals and his status is unclear.

Golden State's Andre Iguodala has missed the last four games with a knee injury and has been declared out for Game 1. Kevin Durant and Curry were their usual selves in the West finals, while Thompson heated up with 35 points in Game 6 against the Rockets, but Iguodala's absence takes a bite out of the depth.

So whatever the outcome of Warriors-Cavs IV, it won't make James the greatest of all time or Golden State the NBA's dominant dynasty.

But it's time to move on, so maybe this will be the last time around for these teams.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls.

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