It’s finally here -- the matchup we have all been waiting for. After breezing through the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will face each other in the NBA Finals for a third consecutive time.

Regular-season recap

These teams met twice during the regular season. Their first meeting was on Christmas day in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers escaped with a narrow one-point victory behind Kyrie Irving’s game-winning shot. Despite Kevin Durant scoring 36 points and corralling 15 rebounds, the Cavaliers overcame a 14-point fourth quarter Warriors lead to win.

LeBron James had 31 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists, while Irving recorded 25 points, 10 assists, seven steals, and six rebounds.

The second meeting was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when the Warriors demolished the Cavaliers by 35 points behind Draymond Green’s triple-double. The Warriors contained James, holding him to 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and Irving to 6-of-19 shooting for 17 points. It was a complete team effort by the Warriors both defensively and offensively, as they sent a huge message to the Cavs in that game.

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

However, anything that happened during the regular season doesn’t matter anymore. The Warriors are facing a completely different Cavaliers team that has flipped the switch during the playoffs. Both teams have been respectively dominant throughout the post-season and are in for an exciting series.

The Warriors are thirsty for revenge, equipped with a major weapon this season in Durant, who is seeking his first championship ring. The difference between the Warriors and all the other Eastern Conference teams is that they are extremely versatile and have multiple defenders to put on James and Irving.

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NBA Cleveland Cavaliers

Ultimately, the Warriors use fantastic team defense to clog the paint and be physical with the two superstars, but their perimeter defense is strong as well.

Green, Durant, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala all have the ability to defend Irving and James due to their versatility on defense. Additionally, each of the four are versatile enough to ball handle and playmake on the offensive end. Golden State’s versatility will be key in this series, because that’s what makes them a unique team.

The Cavaliers must remain in attack mode to put pressure on Golden State’s smothering defense.

James cannot settle for too many jumpers. Otherwise, he would be doing the Warriors a favor. Cleveland’s bench must also be sharp and consistent. They are going to have to rely heavily on their reserve players.

Both teams have many offensive weapons, which means that this series will come down to defense. The more physical and determined team will win. With revenge on their minds and the addition of Durant, the Warriors look poised to win their second championship in three seasons. This could be a short series this time.

Prediction: Warriors 4-1

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