The Cavaliers and Warriors go head-to-head for the fourth-straight year as the two Conference heavyweights battle it out in the 2018 NBA Finals, beginning with Game 1 on Thursday night in Oakland. Tipoff from Oracle Arena is set for 9:00 p.m. (ET).
After defeating the Boston Celtics, 4-3, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs are back in the NBA Finals for the fourth-straight season and fifth time in franchise history (2007, 2015, 2016, 2017).
As mentioned, this is also the fourth year in a row that Cleveland and Golden State will square off in The Finals, which is the most consecutive meetings in a championship round among the four major pro sports leagues (NHL: three straight between Canadiens/Red Wings from 1954-56; NFL: three straight between Lions/Browns from 1952-54; MLB: three straight between Giants/Yankees from 1921-23).
In the NBA, specifically, the Cavaliers and Warriors join the Boston Celtics (1957-1966, 1984-1987), Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1985) and Miami Heat (2011-2014) as the only franchises to make four-straight NBA Finals.
While those stats are impressive, both teams are focused on this year’s matchup, rather than what happened in the past.
The Wine & Gold have been playing solid defense this postseason and will try to carry that success over into the Finals. In fact, Cleveland is allowing just 99.9 points during the playoffs, the second-lowest mark among all 16 NBA playoff teams.
The Cavs are also one of the more resilient teams in the Association as seen in their recent comeback over the Boston Celtics in the East Finals. In the ECF, Cleveland overcame an 0-2 deficit for the third time in franchise playoff history (2007 ECF vs. DET, 2016 Finals vs. GSW) after limiting the Celtics to under 100 points in four of the final five games for an average of 92.4 points on .402 shooting from the field in that span.
Another key contributor to the Cavs success stems from the leadership exemplified by LeBron James, who will become the sixth player in NBA history to play in eight consecutive NBA Finals, joining Bill Russell’s 1950s-60s Celtics teams.
In the 2018 Playoffs, James leads the NBA in PPG (34.0) and double-doubles (13, tied for his second-most in a single postseason), while adding 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists (third-most in NBA Playoffs). In Game 7 against Boston, James became the third player in league history to post at least 35 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists in a Game 7, joining Dolph Schayes (35 PTS, 16 REB, 9 AST at BOS in 1959) and James Worthy (36 PTS, 16 REB, 10 AST vs. DET in 1988).
Following in the footsteps of their fearless leader, a number of James’ teammates have shown that they’ll do #WhateverItTakes to spot their captain.
Jeff Green, who stepped in for an injured Kevin Love in Game 7 of the ECF, had his highest scoring game and rebound performance of the 2018 Playoffs in the win over Boston, with 19 points and eight boards in 42 minutes of work. The Cavs improved to 5-1 when Green scores in double-digits this postseason.
JR Smith, in the meantime, has made at least three, three-pointers on nine occasions in the 2018 Playoffs, including the Game 7 win at Boston.
This Cavaliers team, with their explosive offense and stalwart defense, will need each and every player to be at the top of their game when they tipoff against the Golden State Warriors, who were also down at one point in their West Finals series with the Houston Rockets.
After going up 2-1 in their WCF series, the Warriors dropped two straight and found themselves in a 3-2 hole and on the verge of being dethroned. However, two late-game comebacks led by Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, helped push GS over the Houston hump. It was Thompson’s 35 points and nine three-pointers that helped rally Golden State from down 17 in Game 6 and Curry’s 27 points and seven treys in Game 7 that earned them a date with the Cavs on Thursday.
So far this postseason, Curry (24.8 ppg) and Thompson (20.5 ppg) are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on the Warriors’ postseason scoring list. They both trail Kevin Durant, who is averaging 29 ppg over the course of three rounds.
Where to Catch the Action
FOX Sports Ohio: Before and after all Cavs playoffs games, FOX Sports Ohio will provide pre- and postgame coverage hosted by Jeff Phelps and Campy Russell that will include reporting and analysis from Fred McLeod, Austin Carr and Allie Clifton, with guest appearances from former Cavs coach Mike Fratello.
Radio: WTAM 1100, 87.7 La Mega
For Wine & Gold fans, the all-important Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals can’t come soon enough. However, here are some interesting milestones that will take your mind off of the wait.
From a league perspective, LeBron James (108 30-pt games) needs just one more 30-point game to tie Michael Jordan (109 30-pt games) for the most in NBA postseason history.
Kyle Korver (236 3FGM) is only one three-pointer away from passing Jason Kidd (236 3FGM) for sole possession of the 14th-most in NBA postseason play, while JR Smith (279 3FGM) is seven triples shy of moving past Derek Fisher (285 3FGM) for eighth place on that list.
From a franchise perspective, Kevin Love (109 AST) needs two assists to pass Larry Nance Sr. (110 AST) for eigth-most in franchise playoff history.
Swish (771 PTS) is 12 points away from passing Brad Daugherty (782 PTS) for sixth place on the Cavaliers all-time playoff scoring list.
Following Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, the Cavs and Warriors will tipoff on ABC in Oakland for Game 2 on Sunday, June 3 at 8:00 p.m. (ET). The series will then move to Cleveland, beginning on Wednesday, June 6 with Game 3 and Friday, June 8 with Game 4. Tipoff from The Q for both games will be at 9:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on ABC.