The defending champion Golden State Warriors will rematch the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals beginning with Game 1 Thursday night at Oracle Arena in the Bay Area.
The Cavs, still seeking their first championship, hope to derail the Warriors' record-breaking season while avenging last season’s finals loss. The Warrors defeated the Cavs in six games and won their first title in four decades, with forward Andre Iguodala taking home MVP honors.
For both teams, the path to the finals was far different this year compared to last. Steph Curry and the Warriors, after claiming a record 73 regular-season wins, stormed back and became just the 10th team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit, dropping the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games in the Western Conference finals.
Curry, who earned his second straight MVP, worked his way back from a knee injury during the series as Golden State turned more to shooting guard Klay Thompson while forward Draymond Green also struggled for stretches.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs are actually healthy as they head to the finals for the third time in franchise history. Along with four-time MVP James, the Cavs will send out forward Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, who’ve each had some stellar moments in the postseason. Love suffered a shoulder injury in the first round last season, while Irving fractured his left kneecap in Game 1 against the Warriors last season and missed the rest of the series.
The Warriors enter the series as favorites, and history does suggest the Cavs will have trouble without home-court advantage. In the 69 previous NBA Finals, the squad with home-court has gone 50-19, and Golden State went 39-2 at home during the regular season and lost just once at the Oracle during the postseason.
The best-of-seven series will follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format, with the series starting out in Oakland.
2016 NBA Finals Schedule
TV Channel: ABC will broadcast every game.
Game 1: Thursday, June 2, Oracle Arena at 9 p.m. ET
Game 2: Sunday, June 5, Oracle Arena at 8 p.m. ET
Game 3: Wednesday, June 8, Quicken Loans Arena at 9 p.m. ET
Game 4: Friday, June 10, Quicken Loans Arena at 9 p.m. ET
Game 5*: Monday, June 13, Oracle Arena at 9 p.m. ET
Game 6*: Thursday, June 16, Quicken Loans Arena at 9 p.m. ET
Game 7*: Sunday, June 19, Oracle Arena at 8 p.m. ET
(*) If necessary