Rivals with scores to settle
IT’S the NBA Finals series that’s destined to mean much more than simply crowning a champion for 2016-17.
For the first time in league history, the same two teams will square off in a third consecutive deciding series.
And with Golden State and Cleveland having split the past two Finals bouts, this best-ofseven slog will help determine which of these two powerful units will be remembered as among the greatest in history.
Last season’s Golden State outfit won a league-record 73 of its 82 games in the regular season, and then raced to a 3-1 lead in the Finals.
What happened from there was an improbable meltdown: losing the last three games of the series, including two at home, to let the Larry O’Brien Trophy slip from its grasp.
In particular, Draymond Green, the team’s spiritual leader, will be hellbent on redemption after a silly act re- sulted in him missing one of those matches through suspension.
There’s been a quiet determination about the Warriors all year as they look to right last year’s wrong, and they enter this Finals series undefeated in the post-season.
The man who is arguably the best player on the planet not named LeBron gets the chance to prove his worth. Kevin Durant was still fairly raw as a 23-year-old during his sole trip to the Finals with Oklahoma City five years ago, and left the Thunder last offseason to bolster his chances of securing a championship ring.
He’s playing like he desperately wants one, torching San Antonio in the Conference Finals by averaging 28 points per game at a red-hot 60 per cent shooting clip.
Expect Durant’s range and ability to shoot over opponents to trouble the Cavs.
Golden State hosts game one of the series on Friday at 11am (AEST).
WE MEET AGAIN: Cleveland’s LeBron James, left, and Golden State’s Stephen Curry will lead their sides into battle.