LeBron Undaunted By Challenge Of Facing Warriors In Finals

Esther Moore
June 2, 2017

Kevin Love doesn't believe the Cavaliers are underdogs in their NBA Finals matchup with the Warriors.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook installed Golden State as a minus-260 favorite, with Cleveland at plus-220, meaning a $100 bet on the Warriors would win $38.46 and the same bet on the Cavaliers would win $220, according to ESPN.

Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points despite playing on a tender ankle, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an nearly inevitable third date in the NBA Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. They hit on just 10 of 31 attempts from beyond the arc, and Bradley and Marcus Smart combined to shoot 2-for-12 from that range.

"The whole underdog thing is amusing to me, because yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title", Cavs forward Kevin Love said following Saturday's practice. "Obviously we want to take that to the next series and try to be great and see what happens". We will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? "But I'd say anybody up front. But when I think about what they accomplished, they deserve a lot of credit".

It was no match Thursday night in Game 5 with the Cavs coasting from start to finish and winning 135-102 at the TD Garden.

The Warriors play the Cavaliers in Game 1 on Friday morning at 03:00 CET at the Oracle Arena as the Warriors look to avenge their 4-3 loss to LeBron's team in last years deciding series.

"We think we have a good group of guys, guys that compete and play hard", said Celtics big man Al Horford.

As a result, the Cavs are outscoring opponents by 13.6 points per game - the third best margin in league history. Durant signed a two-year, $54.3 million contract with the Warriors last offseason. Golden State, Cleveland stands a great chance of defending their title. James' overall playoff field goal percentage (48.2 percent) and 3-point accuracy (32.7 percent) are in range with Jordan (48.7 percent total, 33.2 percent from 3), however Jordan averaged 33.4 points in the playoffs.

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"Want the Warriors?" he said.

In order to preserve his all-time legacy, Kevin Durant needs an NBA Finals victory more than any other player in this series.

In 2016, it looked like everything was going the Warriors' way. "We'd love it if we could win in four games, that would be great", Green said with a smile. In the past, they've given the starting job to forward Gerald Green when they've wanted to go small.

Let's just say that Durant will be a somewhat larger presence in this series than Barnes was in the last one.

The Warriors are using Durant the way he envisioned, but Lue has noticed changes in the All-Star.

"Throughout the postseason there's so many different emotions", James said.

Lue said didn't deliver any inspiring speech to his players before practice. I started to slash more and move more without the ball, shoot more standstill 3s and figure out ways I could be more productive than just having the ball in isolation. And since 2000, the NBA Finals has pumped out a 36-48-5 O/U count (57 percent Unders). We're not using that as an excuse. "If one of the other scorers is left on his own like L.A. and he gets doubled and the playoffs get more physical, then you have to find scoring elsewhere and we had a problem doing that". "You just know that they could come in and win multiple championships and be All-Stars every year". "So, that's what we're focused on".

While both Bogut and Sanders are no longer in Cleveland, Williams and Korver have meshed nicely with current bench players such as Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson to give the Cavs a solid second unit.

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