The third consecutive best-of-seven title showdown between the Warriors and Cavaliers opens Thursday with Golden State's 2015 win and Cleveland's stinging rally from 3-1 down last June adding to the anticipated drama for two superstar-filled squads. Tristan Thompson will own the paint, it is the perimeter that will give the Cavs fits, as the Warriors will most likely run the pick and roll offense through Curry and Durant.
The Warriors haven't lost a single game in these playoffs thus far and the LeBron James' Cavs have only lost a single game.
Draymond Green says he's learned from his costly flagrant fouls past year.
Ahead of Game 7 previous year, James told cleveland.com he wanted to win for northeast OH because of the bond people share over sports.
But for many people across this wide land of fields and courts and rinks, the 2017 NBA Finals will be the event that raised their pulse like no other. After putting together the greatest three-year stretch in National Basketball Association history, the Warriors will be looking to avenge last year's devastating loss and validate the Kevin Durant signing that created such an "unfair" super-team.
Not that anyone expected any different.
He was also one win away from returning to the Finals previous year with Oklahoma City but they squandered a 3-1 series lead to Golden State, the team he joined a little over a month later. The Warriors are the first team to enter the NBA Finals without a loss in the first three rounds.
"They stepped it up a level in the playoffs defensively", Durant said of the Cavaliers.
Durant is one of the top five players in the National Basketball Association, and is potentially the second best player behind LeBron James. He's 32 now. "I'm not in the "prove people wrong, silence critics" people department no more".
"I mean, I know him well ... all the way back from my college days", Curry said. "My motivation is to be great, put my teammates in a position where they can compete for a championship, live out dreams".
"Pressure is what you make it", Green said. Maybe you're not a huge Warriors (or Cavaliers) fan. "So with how the finals went down a year ago if I were in his shoes, I'd want the same thing".
James eclipsed Michael Jordan at the top of the playoffs point scorers list during this postseason, leading to calls for him to be ordained as the greatest of all time. And though Golden State looks better and hungrier this year, the Cavs boast the one reason to think they could find a way again this year.
That would be the same LeBron James who is participating in his seventh straight finals - four with the Miami Heat and three straight with the Cavaliers.
The move would permit the Warriors to keep their entire core together with two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry potentially signing one of the first five-year contracts created by the new collective bargaining agreement.
"We see that every day", Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said of James. It's kind of surreal, a surreal feeling even though we kind of expected to be here, but now that it's actually happened, it's a great feeling.