Few people haved doubted that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will eventually cross paths in June since the start of the 2016/17 season. For the first time in NBA history, a rubber match will take place in the NBA Finals as the Cavs and Dubs square it off in basketball’s biggest stage for a third straight year.

Inevitable NBA Finals match-up

The Warriors proved to the world they are the lords of the Western Conference after easily demolishing their competition – including the proud San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. They punched their ticket to the championship round of the NBA playoffs with an immaculate 12-0 record.

They set a playoff record for the largest point difference entering the finals at +16.3 points.

The Cavaliers have also dominated their rivals in the Eastern Conference like no team has done before. Led by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavs steamrolled to the NBA Finals with an equally impressive playoff record of 12-1. The Cavs’ only loss this postseason came in Game 3 of the East Finals when they allowed the Boston Celtics to come back from a 21-point deficit and stun them in the closing seconds with Avery Bradley’s three-point shot. Other than that, the Cavs have been nothing short of impressive.

Chuck and Shaq predictions

While the betting odds favor the Warriors to win their second championship in three years, Inside the NBA analysts and Hall Famers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal think the Cavaliers can pull the rug on the West Coast superteam.

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“I got the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the championship (in six games),” Barkley said as he unveiled his NBA Finals prediction. “Kyrie Irving and LeBron are going to play better because they are going to play faster. I think they are in the conversation as the best one-on-one players in the world.

The Warriors are going to get up and down, so that’s gonna help Kyrie and LeBron. LeBron and KD is gonna cancel each other out. Steph [Curry] and Kyrie is gonna cancel each other out. It’s gonna come down to these four guys. Draymond [Green] and whoever either Javale McGee or Zaza [Pachulia] against Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.”

Barkley said he didn’t include Klay Thompson into his equation because he’s struggling lately. He believes Klay’s shooting woes has something to do with Durant and Curry taking turns on offense, making one of the best two-guards in the league the odd man out on that end of the floor.

As for Shaq, he initially refrained from making his prediction until he watched the first two games of the series.

However, upon hearing Chuck’s analysis, he has finally leaned on the Cavs as the eventual champs.

Kenny Smith, on the other hand, thinks the Warriors will win it all because of the addition of Kevin Durant. He also believes the Warriors’ coaching staff will figure it out how to get Thompson more involved on offense in the series. “A team that was up 3-1 added Kevin Durant. To me that’s the difference.”

The 2017 NBA Finals will begin on Thursday at 9:00 p.m US EST at the Oracle Arena.