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Warriors and Cavaliers: NBA Finals Storylines 2018

2018 NBA FINALS: No. 2 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (58-24) vs. No. 4 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (50-32)

• Cleveland and Golden State are meeting in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year. This is the first time in the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL that the same teams are matched in the championship round in four consecutive years. The NFL, MLB and NHL have all had one instance of teams facing each other with a championship on the line three years in a row.

• Cleveland’s LeBron James will be the sixth player in NBA history to play in the NBA Finals in eight straight seasons. The other five all played for Boston in the 1950s and 1960s.

Players to Appear in Eighth Straight Finals

Player

Team

Finals Streak

Years

Bill Russell

BOS

   10 Seasons

1957-66

Sam Jones

BOS

    9 Seasons

1958-66

Tom Heinsohn

BOS

    9 Seasons

1957-65

Frank Ramsey

BOS

    8 Seasons

1957-64

K.C. Jones

BOS

    8 Seasons

1959-66

LeBron James

CLE/MIA

    8 Seasons

2011-18

 

• Overall, this is LeBron James’ ninth Finals appearance, tying him for fourth place all time.

 

Most Finals Appearances By Player

Player

 Appearances

Bill Russell

       12

Sam Jones

       11

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

       10

Tom Heinsohn

       9

LeBron James

       9

Magic Johnson

       9

Jerry West

       9

 

 

• Cleveland and Golden State are the fourth and fifth franchises to reach the NBA Finals four straight times. LeBron James has now done it with two franchises, Cleveland and Miami.

Most Consecutive Finals Appearances By Team

Team

Appearances

   Years

Boston Celtics

       10

  1957-66

Cleveland Cavaliers

       4

  2015-18

Golden State Warriors

       4

  2015-18

Miami Heat

       4

  2011-14

Boston Celtics

       4

  1984-87

Los Angeles Lakers

       4

  1982-85

 

 

• With their 10th Finals appearance, the Warriors are passing Philadelphia (nine) for sole possession of third place on the NBA’s all-time list.

      Most Finals Appearances By Team

Team

Appearances

Los Angeles Lakers

       31

Boston Celtics

       21

Golden State Warriors

       10

Philadelphia 76ers

       9

 

 

• Golden State has won five NBA titles, tied with San Antonio for fourth place all time. If the Warriors win this series, they would match Chicago for third place with six championships.

Most NBA Championships By Team

Team

      Titles

Boston Celtics

       18

Los Angeles Lakers

       17

Chicago Bulls

       6

Golden State Warriors

       5

San Antonio Spurs

       5

 

 

• LeBron James (1,247 points) begins the series needing 71 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,317) for second place on the NBA’s all-time Finals scoring list. Jerry West is the career Finals points leader with 1,679. James is already the career playoff scoring leader with 6,775 points.

• LeBron James could also take over second place on the all-time Finals assists list during this series. With 339 Finals assists, he needs 62 to pass Bob Cousy (400) for the No. 2 spot. Magic Johnson leads with 584 assists.

• LeBron James and Stephen Curry are almost neck-and-neck on the all-time playoff and Finals lists for three-pointers made. Ray Allen is the career playoff leader with 385 threes, followed by James in second place with 364 and Curry in third place with 356. In the Finals, James is in first place with 80 and Curry is second with 76.

• Cleveland’s Jeff Green and Golden State’s Shaun Livingston – both former top-five draft picks – are inspirational players who reclaimed their careers after missing entire seasons for health reasons. Green had open-heart surgery in January 2012, missing the 2011-12 season. After his superb Game 7 effort against Boston, Green got emotional discussing his comeback. Livingston sustained a horrific knee injury that caused him to miss the 2007-08 season. He has been a key reserve over four seasons with Golden State – his eighth team since returning from the injury.

• Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Jeff Green both grew up in Prince George’s County, Md., and began their NBA careers together as teammates for four seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder). The Sonics selected Durant with the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and acquired the draft rights to Green, the fifth pick that year, in a trade with Boston, which received Ray Allen in return.

  • Kevin Durant has averaged 32.9 points in 10 games in the NBA Finals, the third-highest mark in league history (minimum 10 games). Rick Barry is the all-time leader with 36.3 points (10 games) and Michael Jordan ranks second with 33.6 points (35 games).   

• Kevin Durant and Cleveland’s Kendrick Perkins were teammates for five seasons in Oklahoma City. During his memorable acceptance speech after winning the 2013-14 Kia NBA MVP Award, Durant broke down when describing the late-night calls and texts of encouragement that he received from Perkins. Durant called Perkins “one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”

• LeBron James noted recently that not many players selected in the famed 2003 NBA Draft are still around. In fact, only eight played in the NBA this season – and five of them are in this series: Cleveland’s James (#1 pick), Kendrick Perkins (#27) and Kyle Korver (#51); and Golden State’s David West (#18) and Zaza Pachulia (#42). The other three are OKC’s Carmelo Anthony (#3), Miami’s Dwyane Wade (#5) and OKC’s Nick Collison (#12). Collison announced his retirement a few weeks ago.   

• LeBron James and Kevin Durant are both finalists for the 2017-18 NBA Cares Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente. The winner will be announced at the 2018 NBA Awards presented by Kia on June 25.

• Both head coaches have hit milestones. Golden State’s Steve Kerr has joined Pat Riley as the only coaches in NBA history to reach the Finals in each of their first four years as an NBA head coach. Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue is now the third coach to make the Finals in his first three seasons, joining Kerr and Riley.

Steve Kerr was a teammate of Larry Nance Sr. for three-plus seasons with the Cavaliers. Kerr will now coach against Nance’s son, Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr., in the Finals.

As childhood friends in Oregon, Kevin Love and Klay Thompson played on the same Little League baseball team. They nearly made the Little League World Series. (Klay’s brother Trayce is now an outfielder for the Chicago White Sox.) 

• Cleveland’s George Hill and Golden State’s David West helped form the core of a Pacers team that made the Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014, losing twice to LeBron James and the Heat. Last year, West made his NBA Finals debut in his 14th season. This year, Hill will make his Finals debut in his 10th season. It’s been quite a month for Hill, who graduated from IUPUI and participated in commencement ceremonies before the Eastern Conference Finals. 

• During last year’s playoffs, Kevon Looney was inactive for Golden State due to a hip injury and Jordan Bell was still in college at Oregon. This year, however, both played significant roles in the Western Conference Finals as Steve Kerr went with the young big men ahead of veterans Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee.

LeBron James and Stephen Curry are from Akron, Ohio. Curry was born there while his father, Dell, played for the Cavs in 1987-88, Dell’s only season with the team in a 16-year career that included an NBA Sixth Man Award and prolific three-point shooting.

The brothers of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have spent time with the Cavaliers -- Seth Curry in 2013-14 and Mychel Thompson in 2011-12.

Quinn Cook was the 2015-16 NBA G League Rookie of the Year and a 2016-17 All-NBA G League First Team selection while playing for the Cavaliers’ NBA G League affiliate, the Canton Charge. This season, Cook was waived by the Atlanta Hawks in October, signed a two-way contract with the Warriors and later earned a multiyear deal with the reigning champs.

Cleveland’s Jose Calderon (Spain) is part of his first Finals in his 13th season. In March 2017, Calderon was set to join the Warriors after being released by the Lakers, but an injury to Kevin Durant prompted Golden State to sign another forward – Matt Barnes – instead. Still, the Warriors agreed to honor their financial agreement with Calderon, signing and immediately waiving him.