Can the Cavaliers keep it close or will the Warriors roll again?

 
 
Posted5/31/2018 1:00 AM
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  • Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry goes for a layup during an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 30, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Oakland.

    Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry goes for a layup during an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 30, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Oakland.

2018 NBA Finals

Golden State vs. Cleveland

Season series: Warriors 2-0

Schedule: Thursday: Game 1 at Golden State, 8 p.m.; Sunday: Game 2 at Golden State, 7 p.m.; Wednesday, June 6: Game 3 at Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Friday, June 8: Game 4 at Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Monday, June 11: Game 5 at Golden State, 8 p.m.*; Thursday, June 14: Game 6 at Cleveland, 8 p.m.*; Sunday, June 17: Game 7 at Golden State, 7 p.m.* (* if necessary).

Looks familiar: Yeah, no real need to remind people this is the fourth straight Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers. Golden State has won two of three, including last year in five games.

Second in command: The strengths of these two teams also should be very familiar. The Warriors are the NBA's super team with former MVP Kevin Durant averaging 29.0 points in the playoffs, two-time MVP Steph Curry averaging 24.8 points, while SG Klay Thompson and PF Draymond Green provide their usual strong support. Cleveland's typical game is a superhuman performance from LeBron James and hope for the best from anyone else. James is averaging 34 points in the playoffs, and the Cavs' second-leading scorer is Kevin Love all the way down at 13.9 ppg. Can Kyle Korver or J.R. Smith hit some 3s, Jeff Green surprise people with a big performance? Cleveland needs plenty of all that.

Injury updates: Golden State's Andre Iguodala missed the last four games of the West finals with a knee injury and has already been ruled out for Game 1. His absence takes away a reliable fourth option and a strong defender. The Warriors don't need Quinn Cook shooting clutch 3s like he did in Game 5 vs. Houston. Love has been in concussion protocol since a collision with Boston's Jayson Tatum in Game 6 of the East finals. His status for Game 1 is unknown. Love could be a difference-maker in this series, having averaged 24 points against the Warriors in the regular season.

X-factors: For Cleveland, it's virtually anyone who takes the floor. Korver, Smith, Green, George Hill, Tristan Thompson all are capable of having big games, but it hasn't happened frequently. The Cavs' third-leading scorer in the East finals was Hill at 9.6 ppg. Golden State doesn't really need X-factors if the main guys are their usual selves, but SF Kevon Looney has gotten more run lately.

Mike McGraw's prediction: Warriors in 5.

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