And just as a move paid championship dividends for James after a prior finals loss, it could do the same in June for Durant.
During a public speaking engagement at midseason, Warriorspower forwardDraymond Green showed he still was feeling the effects, telling his audience, "3-1 [expletive]". The four-time NBA MVP has played in the NBA Finals each of the last seven years and has won three titles.
The Warriors have home court advantage and are heavy favourites - James called them a "juggernaut" - when the best-of-seven finals begin Thursday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
That's actually in the same ballpark as last year's NBA Finals' Game 7, when the get-in price for tickets ranged from about $850 to $1,000 just before the deciding game was to be played. The Warriors were heavy favorites after setting a record with 73 regular-season wins, and no one expected the Cavs to come back when they fell into a 3-1 series hole.
Meanwhile, the average "get-in" price for the NBA Finals hosted in Cleveland hasn't changed much over the past three years: It's up slightly to $344 this year, compared to $339 in 2016 and $327 in 2015. They're going to shoot tough shots. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will pose the biggest threat to the Warriors as they've seen since last year's championship series.
Despite often being left unguarded as the Cavaliers focused on stopping Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Barnes shot 5 of 32 over the finalthree games as Cleveland rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the series. But this also may be the best all-around version of James, who is averaging 32.5 points on almost 57 percent shooting, and adding 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. Are you kidding me?
James passes Jordan, Cavs back in Finals with 135-102 win
Kelly Olynyk came alive in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Wizards in a do-or-die situation. They have earned a rubber match with the Warriors , setting up one of the most anticipated NBA Finals in recent memory.
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He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists. In Game 5 on Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston , James dropped 35 points and Irving scored 24 in the 135-102 win.
The commish also expressed a belief that teams beside the Warriors and Cavaliers can compete for an National Basketball Association title. That'll be the cover line for the Sports Illustrated issue on the NBA Finals.
If I'm being totally honest, for most of us right now, the goal is just to get in the bracket where you don't have to play Golden State or Cleveland until the conference finals... The Warriors are favored, after all, just as they were past year.
In the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers finished second behind the Boston Celtics with 51 wins from 82 games.
But James will face long odds in the Warriors, who have demolished everybody in every way in a ideal 12-0 postseason and have added the brilliance of Durant to the two-time finalists.