The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have built one of the all-time great sporting rivalries. Carrying 12-1 and 12-0 postseason records respectively into Thursday night’s NBA Finals opener at the Oracle, these two iconic teams are on the cusp of reigniting a petty hatred that has dominated basketball.
Three MVPs, a healthy grouping of all-stars and fresh, sore memories of the Warriors’ collapse from a 3-1 lead last year. It has everything and we should be treated to something special. Last year’s Finals were hardly a drag, and now we have Kevin Durant added to the illustrious mix.
LeBron James’ quest to supersede Michael Jordan as the greatest ever leads the narrative, though this might be the toughest test of James’ Hall of Fame career.
Steph Curry is still thinking about that pass from last year and, while he is still slumping by his standards, Klay Thompson cannot pass under the radar midst the Durant and Curry concerns. Such is the nature of the Warriors’ scoring talent, Durant is out at third favourite to top score in the series. James’ obscene playoff numbers this year, mind, make it tough to look past him at 13/20.
Naturally, James is also favourite to make the most assists in the series. A double on top points and assists is at 39/20. Draymond Green – who led the Warriors in assists during the regular season – is second favourite and could be good value at 5/4. If Golden State are to overcome their demons from 2016, Green will need to be productive offensively as well as his usual dominant defence.
The MVP voting naturally swings with who you are backing for the series. Personally, I think Golden State will take it in six. A 4-2 victory for the Californian superstars is 4/1 and looks a strong price for a team unbeatable in the playoffs to date. Their position as 4/11 favourites to win the series overall is understandable with Durant and Curry as joint 7/4 favourites for the MVP award.
In an underwhelming postseason, our final hope of drama is this immense rivalry. There was a severe inevitability about this Finals matchup, now it’s arrived and we could be about to witness another instalment of sporting greatness. Curry and James will both go down as some of the best to have played the game, but which will be adding another ring to their collection this month?