Profile of the Golden State Warriors, who play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the best-of-seven NBAFinals starting on Thursday. Irving had 34- and 26-point games in losses in last year's Finals. Cleveland would keep Golden State from scoring and ultimately, the Cavs would claim Cleveland's first major sports championship in over 50 years.
Golden State became the first team in National Basketball Association history to start the playoffs 12-0. Golden State shot 44 per cent against the Cavs in the 2015 Finals, 43 per cent last season.
The Warriors' not-so-secret weapon, their small-ball lineup, was devastating during the 2016 regular season.
Because of the dominance of these two great teams, the NBA Playoffs haven't been too thrilling to watch.
James and Durant are versatile defenders, allowing them to switch off Green without creating a mismatch or wide-open shot, and that put a halt to the Warriors' most potent five-man unit. "You've just got to try and make it tough on them", Durant said.
Kerr, who is in his third season with Golden State, hasn't coached since Game 2 of the team's opening-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers due to complications from a previous back surgery.
James will push Golden State to the limit. Less than a month earlier, the Cavs were victorious against the Warriors in Cleveland. But now? Now it just looks kind of disheveled, with LeBron's brilliant dunk and Irving's lunatic three-pointer breaking up the slop.
Playing at Oracle Arena might give the Warriors a slight edge, but they have proven to be vulnerable at home.
Durant took heat for leaving behind a solid Oklahoma City squad that pushed the Warriors to the brink of elimination in last year's Western Conference final, but the move has paid off so far.
James called the Warriors "the best team in our league for the last three years" even before adding 2014 league MVP Kevin Durant during the off-season. In 2015, he was sensational in Game 1 - highlighted by a block of Stephen Curry - before inuring his knee and missing the rest of the series. Playing each contest with fresh legs, the three-time champion has scored at least 32 points on better than 56 percent shooting in every series opener.
Cleveland, which is 3-12 SU as an underdog this season, certainly didn't see an offense of the Warriors' caliber during their easy trip through the Eastern Conference bracket. Then, in Game 5 in Boston, the Cavaliers set franchise records for the most points in a quarter (43), half (75) and game (135) in a postseason contest on the way to a 135-102 closeout win. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Wa. From their first playoff game through their 10th, the Cavs had a higher true-shooting percentage than Shaq did in any of his four championship seasons. But the reigning champs have also ripped through this postseason with a 12-1 record going into the Finals.
The argument from CavsTwitter upon hearing those numbers will likely revolve around how Cleveland has clamped down on Golden State in each of the past two Finals, and that take is accurate.