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Cavaliers vs. Warriors: How Cleveland and Golden State match up in the NBA Finals

GOLDEN STATE (58-24), West No. 2: Home 29-12; road 29-12

First round def. San Antonio 4-1.

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Conference semifinals def. New Orleans 4-1.

Conference finals def. Houston 4-3.

CLEVELAND (50-32), East No. 4: Home 29-12; road 21-20

First round def. Indiana 4-3.

Conference semifinals def. Toronto 4-0.

Conference finals def. Boston 4-3.

Season series: Warriors won 2-0.

Key stats: Golden State and Cleveland are the first teams in the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL to meet in four consecutive championship series. … LeBron James is playing in his eighth consecutive NBA Finals, two fewer than Bill Russell appeared in with the Celtics. … James is averaging more points (34.0) this postseason than teammates Kevin Love, Kyle Korver and George Hill combined (33.4). … In third quarters this postseason, Golden State has shot 51.9% while Cleveland has shot 34.6%.

Outlook: Warriors-Cavaliers IV does not look much like the previous three versions, let alone the teams’ last meeting in January when Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Jae Crowder were still key Cavaliers. Cleveland improved defensively in the postseason from when it was the 29th-ranked unit in the regular season but still is vulnerable with James taxed heavily on offense and the difficulty for Tristan Thompson and/or Love to guard on the perimeter. Cleveland will not be able to get away with defensive inconsistency against Golden State’s offensive inferno, particularly in Oakland where the Warriors boast a plus-16.3 scoring margin. James needs a refilled tank of energy, an All-NBA version of Love and an all-world effort from Hill against Stephen Curry. Andre Iguodala’s knee issue, which kept him out for the last four games, is important for the 2015 Finals MVP’s two-way role but the Warriors remain more loaded and tested without him.

Paul Coro’s prediction: Warriors in five.

SCHEDULE

Game 1: Thursday at Golden State, 6 p.m. (ABC)

Game 2: Sunday at Golden State, 5 p.m. (ABC)

Game 3: Wednesday at Cleveland, 6 p.m. (ABC)

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Game 4: June 8 at Cleveland, 6 p.m. (ABC)

Game 5: June 11 at Golden State, 6 p.m. (ABC)

Game 6: June 14 at Cleveland, 6 p.m. (ABC)

Game 7: June 17 at Golden State, 5 p.m. (ABC)

Games 5-7 if necessary; All times PDT

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