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Cleveland Cavaliers Ready For Trilogy Match Against Golden State Warriors

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue has been planning for Golden State for months.
Mark Irycki
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue has been planning for Golden State for months.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors face off tonight for game one of the NBA Finals. Never before have the same two NBA teams faced each other for the championship three years in a row.

ESPN says this has “the makings of perhaps the greatest NBA Finals in league history.”

No major sports team from Cleveland has won a championship since — well, last year around this time.

The Cavaliers game seven victory in Oakland broke a 51-year championship drought for Cleveland and turned Euclid Avenue into a river of joy with jubilant fans celebrating into the wee hours of the morning.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue says the team really did feel the pressure and the desire to get the win for the city and they heard from fans afterward.

“You see all these people come up to you like ‘I live in L.A. but I’m from Cleveland’ or 'I’m from Columbus.' And all kind of people you didn’t even know or expect living in L.A., living in Vegas, from Ohio,” he said. “So we wanted to do it for the city of Cleveland for the state of Ohio. That’s all we talked about. This city deserved it and we gave it to them.”

Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving said that extra pressure is gone now and the team is mores settled and focused this time. They’ll need to be.

Two years earlier it was Golden State who won the championship on the Cavaliers home floor. And last year, after setting a record for regular season victories, they felt the Cavs stole away a championship that was rightly theirs.

Warriors forward Draymond Green, who was kept out of game five last year due to technical fouls, has since said he wants to annihilate the Cavs.

Cleveland’s Kevin Love will likely have to guard him.

“He said he wanted us, and he has us starting Thursday," Love said. "He’s a guy who brings it every single night. So with how the finals went down last year if I were in his shoes, I’d want the same thing."

Kevin Love watches one of the Cavs' newest players, backup point-guard Deron Williams at practice.
Credit Mark Urycki / Ideastream
Kevin Love watches one of the Cavs' newest players, backup point-guard Deron Williams at practice.

As if the Warriors weren’t powerful last year, they added MVP Kevin Durant, maybe the closest thing to LeBron James in the league. With Steph Curry that makes two MVP players on the same team. Add to that two other all-stars. Now with Durant, James calls them a juggernaut.

“He’s one of the most dangerous guys we have in the world already. So it makes it even more dangerous when you equip that talent, that skill with those guys.”

But the Cavaliers have three all-stars of their own. At some point tonight James will likely become the first player to ever score 6,000 playoff points. That’s why Love wondered why the Cavs are considered underdogs.

And Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees.

“I saw the quote from Kevin Love that he’s surprised. I’m surprised, too," Kerr said. "What the hell is everybody talking about? They’re a great team, they’re the champs. We’re trying to take what they took from us last year.”

These two teams have been eyeing each other and planning for each other since last June. Cleveland added Kyle Korver and Deron Williams, two former all-stars who have never been to the finals before.

“We’ve gotten better, a little more versatile offensively, more versatile defensively” says Lue. “We have more ball handlers now we can put on the floor. They’ve gotten better adding an MVP, probably the best scorer in the league. So, yeah both teams have gotten better and it’s going to be a good challenge. “

James says it’s not about individual talent.

“All I care about is how well we work together and how much of a team we play together," he said. "Talent will only get you so far. But you got to be able to sacrifice and dedicate and fight for one another.”

This all portends a mighty battle “on the mountain top,” as Kyrie Irving puts it. “This is what? Since 1983 – seven all-stars playing on one court at one time. You know it’s destined to be great basketball and it’s worth it to watch. It’s great for the league, great for the culture, and it’s great for the game ultimately to see all great players going at it on one court.

The seven all-stars he refers to are from this year. In all, 11 of the players in this epic matchup have been an all-star at least once. Game one of the best of seven series starts Thursday night at 9pm.