It has felt like a lifetime waiting for the NBA Finals to begin, but it is finally here. The Golden State Warriors will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1, seeking revenge on the defending champions. Equipped with more talent after adding Kevin Durant last summer, the Warriors are considered heavy favorites. Can the Cavaliers pull off an upset?

Matchups

The matchups are going to be crucial in this rematch. Stephen Curry versus Kyrie Irving, LeBron James versus Kevin Durant, Kevin Love versus Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson versus J.R. Smith will be the headlined matchups. However, defensively, you can expect both teams to mix and match.

Thompson will most likely be assigned to Irving because his perimeter defense is much better. Meanwhile, Smith will likely take the challenge of chasing Curry off screens to help Irving conserve his energy for the offensive end. James and Durant are likely to defend each other, although Green will also get some time guarding LeBron.

Off the bench, Andre Iguodala will more than likely be the primary defender on James. Basically when the Warriors go to their "Death Lineup," Durant will either take on Tristan Thompson or Love, while Iguodala plays LeBron, and Thompson sticks Irving. Green will play safety, essentially patrolling the paint from James and Irving’s basket drives.

On the other end, the Cavaliers will put extra focus on Curry and Durant, while Tristan Thompson will play safety and allow Green to get open outside shots.

With Durant, the Cavaliers will have a tougher time picking their poison. Last season, they sagged off Green, but this year they may have to play off Klay Thompson as well. Golden State has too many offensive weapons, meaning the Cavaliers defense has to be flawless.

Three-point shooting

Both teams are efficient three-point shooters and have multiple perimeter weapons.

For the Cavaliers, they are going to rely heavily on Kyle Korver’s shooting, but Smith, Channing Frye, Deron Williams, and Iman Shumpert must also make their open outside shots. Irving and Love have been rather consistent with their long-range shooting as well, which has to continue during the Finals.

As for the Warriors, we already know how deadly they can be from beyond the arc. Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, Iguodala, and Ian Clark can all make the three-ball, and they all get wide open looks due to the team’s excellent ball and man movement. The Cavaliers will have to fight through multiple screens and remain attached to the shooters. Ultimately, three-point shooting is going to be very important and could be the deciding factor.

Free-throw shooting

Since the Warriors are a jump-shooting team, they may not earn many trips to the free-throw line. However, Irving and James will put plenty of pressure on Golden State’s defense by constantly attacking the paint, looking to draw fouls. Therefore, the Warriors must play clean defense to avoid sending Irving and James to the line for freebees.

Free-throw shooting will be another key to victory, and it could very easily benefit the Cavaliers if Golden State’s defense is a step slow.

This will be an entertaining three-match between these two heavyweight teams. It should be a back-and-forth battle and could come down to the wire. Game 1 will tipoff Thursday evening at 9 pm Eastern Time on ABC.

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