The 2018 NBA Finals began with an instant classic in the fourth consecutive finals meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite a heroic 51-point effort from LeBron James, the Cavaliers were unable to steal Game 1 as an overturned call, missed free throw and late-game blunder cost Cleveland and helped the Warriors claim a 124-114 victory Thursday night.
NBA Finals 2018 Warriors vs Cavaliers
Line: GSW -12.5
Series score: Warriors lead 1-0
Complete NBA Finals schedule below:
Game 1: Warriors 124, Cavaliers 114
Game 2: Sunday, June 3 at 5 p.m. PT | Cleveland at Golden State
Game 3: Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. PT | Golden State at Cleveland
Game 4: Friday, June 8 at 6 p.m. PT | Golden State at Cleveland
Game 5: Monday, June 11 at 6 p.m. PT | Cleveland at Golden State
Game 6: Thursday, June 14 at 6 p.m. PT | Golden State at Cleveland
Game 7: Sunday, June 17 at 5 p.m. PT | Cleveland at Golden State
Why should I root for the Warriors?
For years the Warriors almost never even got to the playoffs, much less the NBA Finals. In fact, when they won the championship in 2015, it had been 40 years since they their last NBA Finals appearance. The team’s ascent began after drafting Stephen Curry in 2011, with the team making a number of keen draft, trade and development choices that turned them from a laughingstock to a powerhouse. Even though they’ve been dominant for years, it took a ton of work to get there, which could warrant your fandom.
The Warriors also play fantastic team basketball. Even with four All-Stars in the starting lineup, every one of them has demonstrated an ability to either take over a game or play effective, unselfish basketball. If you enjoy seeing efficient, finely-tuned favorites, this is the team to back.
Why should I root for the Cavaliers?
If you like watching the best all-around player in basketball, look no further that Lebron James. He can do everything. He’ll pass, shoot, block, defend, pull rebounds and dunk and he’s consistent from game to game. And in the playoffs, he takes it to an entirely different level, averaging nearly a triple-double a game, justifying why he’s known as The King. The team also has backing talent with the sharp-shooting Kyle Korver and streaky J.R. Smith. Though Smith isn’t consistent, when he gets hot, he can take over a game with a rain of three-pointers even the Splash Brothers would envy.
The fact is, though they made it this far, these guys are the underdogs going into this series and not everybody loves that Durant joined up with an already-stacked team last year. If you like Lebron or just want to see the favorites go down, the Cavs are who you should be rooting for.
Wait, it’s the Warriors and Cavaliers again?
Despite the best efforts of promising teams like the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, the Warriors and Cavaliers managed to pull it off once again in their respective conference finals. Some fans are tired of the same matchup every year, but there are plenty of reasons why these two teams keep coming back.
Though the Warriors were favored to win at the beginning of the season, they had some rocky stints this year, raising the question of whether they could return to the NBA Finals. Injuries caused two-time MVP Stephen Curry to play in only 51 of 82 games this season. The Rockets, their biggest threat on the road to the finals, managed to capture the number 1 seed in the West. But behind the consistency of Kevin Durant, the lock-down defense of Draymond Green and some dramatic efforts from both Klay Thompson and Curry in the western conference finals, the Warriors showed they could still move the ball, find open looks and beat Houston in their own house for the crucial game seven victory.
The Cavaliers were seen as an even longer shot at making the NBA Finals. After trading away All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics and in return getting Isiah Thomas, who wouldn’t play until January because of injuries, the outlook was surprisingly bleak. But when you have arguably the best player in NBA history, it became impossible to rule the Cavaliers out. The Celtics were favored to win the eastern conference finals against the Cavs having earned home court advantage, but Lebron would pull through in the end after a seven-game series.
Though the Warriors are heavily favored to win, these teams know each other very well, and as we learned in the 2016 matchup between these two teams, anything can happen in an NBA game.