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Warriors vs. Cavaliers Game 1 Preview and GameThread

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals are here between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last year's championship series. Last season, the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in six games to win their first NBA championship since 1972.

How to Watch

When and where: Oracle Arena on June 2, 2016 at 9 p.m. ET

TV: ABC or click here if you're not in the USA.

Online: WatchESPN

Main storylines

The Cavs are back at full strength after last season - One of the "What ifs" surrounding last year's Finals was that the Cavaliers were missing both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving for much of, if not all of the Finals. Love's shoulder was dislocated in the first round of last year's playoff series against the Celtics, while Irving hurt his knee in Game 1 of the Finals last season.

Ultimately, this forced star forward LeBron James to be a do-it-all machine where he scored 35.8 points, grabbed 13.3 rebounds and dished 8.8 assists per game. LeBron's great and all, but he was enough to counter the multi-pronged attack of the Splash Brothers backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, plus the great all-around performances of Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green.

Because of this and some arguably favorable playoff matchups, some considered the Warriors "lucky" in their run to the 2015 title. I disagree with that since teams can only face what's in front of them. That said, this year's Finals should be a much more even series based on the starpower since every major star on both sides will be back in action.

This season, the Cavaliers will have Love and Irving back, and hopefully for the entire series.

Will Klay Thompson be more consistent? - Thompson averaged nearly 16 points a game in last year's Finals, but he struggled to find his shooting form over the series and didn't score over 20 points in each of the last three games in the series. That's last year though.

This year, Thompson has been very consistent during the playoffs where he has scored 15 or more points in every postseason game, including five 30 plus game performances. If both he and Curry can continue their deadly scoring rampage throughout the Finals, it's going to be really, really hard to stop the Warriors from winning the 2016 Finals.

Many legacies are on the line - Both teams are playing with a lot on the line when it comes to how history will view them.

For the Warriors, they went 73-9 in the regular season to get the best regular season record in NBA history. If they were to lose this series, every member of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls minus current Warriors head coach Steve Kerr would likely say something to the effect of "we're still the best team in NBA history."

That's not exactly fair to say because this year's Golden State team is playing in a different era than the Bulls of the late 90's. However, people 20 and 30 years from now -- even in today's era of YouTube videos -- would still quickly point out that Chicago won the title while Golden State didn't get it done.

For the Cavaliers, a Finals loss would only extend the city's 52-year drought of championship-less seasons from all of its major league teams (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL). Sure, I find it hard to sympathize with the Cavs given how much talent they have on the roster, but I don't want a major city to spend over half a century without winning a major sports title somewhere.

Of all the players in this series, James has the most on the line. He led the Cavaliers or Heat to an NBA Finals for each of the last six seasons and has only won the title twice. If the Cavs lose this year, he would have been on a losing squad for three straight seasons, which may be a blemish on his resume when it comes to comparing his record against other NBA greats like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant.

James has also been known for leaving or hinting at that if he doesn't believe that he is in a prime position to win an NBA title.

Who wins? Some of the other writers and I did an informal poll on it. Here are our picks:

  • Albert - Warriors in 5
  • Quentin Rosborough - Warriors in 6
  • ThePGPhenomenon - Warriors in 5
  • L.W. - Warriors in 6
  • Alan Jenkins - Warriors in 5
  • Jake Whitacre - Warriors in 4
  • Mike Sykes - Warriors in 4

More reading

Check out our friends at Golden State of Mind for all things Warriors and Fear the Sword for all things Cavaliers.

That's it

Poll's below. Enjoy the Finals!

Poll

Who wins the 2016 NBA Finals?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Warriors in 4
    (6 votes)
  • 50%
    Warriors in 5
    (14 votes)
  • 14%
    Warriors in 6
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    Warriors in 7
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Cavaliers in 4
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Cavaliers in 5
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    Cavaliers in 6
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Cavaliers in 7
    (0 votes)
28 votes total Vote Now