Finals pick up where they left off with Cavs-Warriors III

The Golden State Warriors All-Star guard once again donned the sleeve to protect his shooting elbow on Thursday night, but quickly changed his mind about wearing it early in the first quarter that led to a huge offensive performance. On defense, stop the Warriors from scoring close in and don't forget to defend them closely at the three-point line and stop them from running. It's really that simple. They will have their hands full, however as the Cavaliers boast an elite offense headed by Lebron James. But Cleveland has gone 12-1 in the playoffs with an average win margin of 13.6 points, James becoming the all-time National Basketball Association playoff top scorer in the process.

Durant could have an incredible series, averaging 30 points per game, and beating LeBron head-to-head - it won't matter to the fickle fans, who think he took the easy way out to join a 73-win team.

For the record, I picked Cleveland at the start of the season primarily for two reasons.

No one could imagine back in July 2014 when LeBron announced his return back to Cleveland, that he would be guiding this team to their 3rd straight finals appearance (his seventh straight).

That's because despite all the holes in the Warriors' handling of the opening game of the Trilogy portion of the only real, living rivalry in the NBA, Golden State still breezed by Cleveland, 113-91.

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James has probably never been better than he is now. But my head says Warriors in six.

And boy did they feel it, the Warriors lost by 15 and allowed LeBron and Kyrie to both score 41 points. While Curry and Klay Thompson had their issues against Cleveland a year ago, it's going to be incredibly hard for the Cavs to contain either of Golden State's top scorers this time around. Golden State shot 44 percent against the Cavs in the 2015 Finals, 43 percent last season.

Of course, make no mistake, the Warriors have plenty of "troublemakers" of their own.

Except those Warriors aren't these Warriors. For them, although they are looking to win back-to-back championships, Cleveland has no pressure on them.

Durant is the difference.

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Klay Thompson uses his words while Draymond Green uses his fists. Now with Durant in that mix in what essentially was Barnes' spot, the Warriors have found different dimensions both offensively and defensively.

Durant is shooting 89 of 160 (55.6 percent) so far in the playoffs, connecting on at least half his shots in each of his past six games. There's no way Durant will get held to those sort of numbers. Tyron Lue, will again coach the Cavaliers, and Mike Brown is scheduled to do the same for the Warriors. It's not like Cleveland is down 3-1 - oops, that being the deficit it rallied from past year to shock the hoops world. Durant has heard so much criticism for leaving Oklahoma City and moving to Golden State last summer.

The Warriors are 12-0 in the playoffs and have won 27 of their last 28 overall. They are 12-0 in the playoffs. They're rested. They're healthy. But barring his way is a Golden State squad out to prove they are the super team dynasty of the era, not the Cavaliers.

And just as a move paid championship dividends for James after a prior finals loss, it could do the same in June for Durant.

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