Warriors and Cavaliers meet in NBA Finals for 4th straight time

Kevin Durant and LeBron James shake hands after a game.And so they meet again. The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are facing each other in the NBA Finals four the fourth straight time, becoming the fourth and fifth franchises in NBA history to accomplish such a streak. Both teams required seven games to knock off higher seeds in their respective conference finals, but in a way the Warriors and the Cavaliers seemed preordained to square off for a title once again, with one of the greatest teams ever in Golden State, and one of the greatest players ever in Cleveland’s LeBron James.

James is appearing in his eighth consecutive NBA Finals, tying the great Bill Russell for the longest Finals streak. He guided the Miami Heat to the Finals for four straight years before returning to Cleveland, where he made his first career Finals appearance in 2007. His latest appearance with the Cavaliers might be his greatest accomplishment outside of defeating the Warriors in the 2016 Finals, especially considering Cleveland lost its second best player in Kevin Love for their biggest game of the season and James responded with 35 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 blocks to eliminate the Boston Celtics in Boston on Sunday.

Golden State overcame a scare of its own against the Houston Rockets, trailing on the road at halftime of Monday’s Game 7 before taking over in the third quarter. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 34 points and Steph Curry had 27 to go with 10 assists and 9 rebounds in the deciding contest, which served as a reminder of how overwhelming the Warriors can be when all of their stars have good games. Klay Thompson added 19 points and Draymond Green had a game-high 13 rebounds to go with 10 points, while the remaining six players who entered the game for Golden State attempted a total of 11 shots.

Love’s status is uncertain for Game 1 at Golden State on Thursday due to concussion symptoms, and the Warriors have been without Andre Iguodala for the last three games due to a nagging knee injury. Even with James playing in peak form, the Cavaliers appear to lack the firepower to keep pace with Golden State if Love is not in the lineup, but the absence of Iguodala, who won Finals MVP in 2015 largely for his work guarding James, could prove to be more costly. A win for the Warriors would give them three titles in four years, while James is seeking the fourth championship of his eight-year Finals streak.