LeBron James Cavaliers Warriors
When the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, it'll be their first visit to Oracle Arana in Oakland, California since Jan. 16, 2017. Getty Images

The matchup for the 2017 NBA Finals was officially made a week ago, but in reality, the rubber match between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers has been 11 months in the making. Ever since Kevin Durant signed with the best team in the West, it became all but certain that the title would come down to the same two teams for a third straight year.

As clear as it was that Golden State and Cleveland would meet in the finals, that’s how clear it appears to be for many that the Warriors will roll to another championship. Most NBA Finals predictions prior to Thursday’s Game 1 at Oracle Arena have Golden State winning without much trouble, and the betting odds favor the Warriors even more so than the previous two years when they were favored over the Cavs.

READ: Will Steve Kerr Coach In The 2017 NBA Finals?

According to the Game 1 betting odds at OddsShark, Cleveland is a seven-point road underdog. The Cavs have been perfect on the road this postseason, winning their last three games by an average of 30 points.

Cleveland’s postseason dominance aside, there are plenty of reasons to think Golden State will have no trouble in Game 1. They are well-rested, having not played since they swept the San Antonio Spurs on May 22, and they’ve looked to be just about unbeatable in the playoffs.

While the Cavs went 12-1 on their way to the finals, the Warriors went a perfect 12-0. Outscoring opponents by an average of 16.3 points per game, Golden State scored 118.3 points per contest, despite facing the league’s two best defensive teams in their last two series. Cleveland doesn’t pose the same kind challenge on defense, ranking 22nd in the regular season in defensive efficiency.

What seems to be a near guarantee is that Game 1 will feature a ton of points. The over/under is 225.5, and the two teams have combined to score 235.1 points per game in the playoffs.

With Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on the same team, the Warriors might end up being too tough for the Cavs. The former MVPs are both scoring more than 25 points on better than 50 percent shooting in the postseason, and they could put up big numbers against Cleveland’s defense.

Golden State blew out Cleveland in the one meeting between the two teams this year at Oracle Arena. Beating the Cavs 126-91 on Jan. 16, the Warriors held LeBron James to just 20 points in 35 minutes.

But Cleveland has proven they can beat Golden State with Durant. Less than a month earlier, the Cavs were victorious against the Warriors in Cleveland. James posted 31 points and 13 rebounds, defeating Golden State without the injured J.R. Smith.

Playing at Oracle Arena might give the Warriors a slight edge, but they have proven to be vulnerable at home. Golden State’s one real scare this postseason came at home when they trailed the San Antonio Spurs by 23 points in the third quarter, and they would’ve dropped Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals had Kawhi Leonard not left the contest with an ankle injury. The Cavs completed last year’s comeback in the finals by winning both Game 5 and Game 7 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors hadn’t lost two straight games all season.

James has been incredible all postseason long, but especially in Game 1 of each series. Playing each contest with fresh legs, the three-time champion has scored at least 32 points on better than 56 percent shooting in every series opener.

Golden State has gotten off to a few slow starts in series openers. Aside from Game 1 against the Spurs, the Warriors began the fourth quarter of their first playoff game this season tied with the Portland Trail Blazers. Golden State went on to win the game by 12 points.

As quickly as the Warriors can put up points, the Cavs can do the same. The defending champs have made more threes and shot a better percentage from behind the arc than Golden State. Cleveland hasn’t scored fewer than 106 points in their 13 playoff games, scoring 112 points or more in seven of their last nine contests.

The Cavs' defense has also improved this postseason. Facing two top-10 offensive teams in the semifinals and conference finals, Cleveland allowed more than 105 points just once.

Cleveland’s dominance on offense is being overlooked, and it’s going to make for a closer Game 1 than many seem to be anticipating.

Prediction: Cleveland over Golden State, 120-117