LeBron James' Cavaliers embracing underdog status in NBA Finals rematch with Warriors

  • LeBron James' Cavaliers embracing underdog status in NBA Finals rematch with Warriors

LeBron James' Cavaliers embracing underdog status in NBA Finals rematch with Warriors

Two years ago, the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in six games to win their first National Basketball Association title in 40 years. It's what we should want - the two best teams on the biggest stage.

And this time, I have a feeling very different than I had a year ago.

"I'm not well enough to coach a game and I know that (because) I coached all 82 games and I did OK".

Now, it's on to the five biggest changes to the respective teams.

Key Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. This isn't to say he'll be Golden State's kryptonite, but the Warriors have yet to face a confident and established Love in the Finals.

But even if Thompson remains cold from the perimeter, the Cavaliers aren't going to ignore the league's best shooter not named Curry - which will, in turn, open up more space for Curry and Durant to operate. Golden State has skated by regardless, but if this trend continues the Cavaliers will make the Warriors pay. But that just hasn't been the case. This year's team was plus-11.6 and had a rating of 12.1. He was outstanding, the Warriors were outstanding, he and Durant combined to frighten opponents nearly nightly.

Brown has been coaching the Warriors since Game 3 of the first-round playoff series at Portland, with Kerr assisting at practice and from the locker room before and during games. The Cavs were in desperate need of someone to take control when Kyrie Irving sat, and Williams brings that.

"He's one of the most unsafe guys we have in the world already", James said of Durant. "And we believe we can get there".

One of the few things that hasn't gone right for Golden State this postseason has been Klay Thompson's shooting.

As quickly as the Warriors can put up points, the Cavs can do the same. Because they play high scoring games, on first glance they seem to give up a fair amount of points. Now they are turning their attention to the Warriors for Game 1. It's going to be tough, but we have to lock into what we have to do defensively and sometimes you can play great defense and it doesn't work. Six of CBS Sports' seven writers ... you get it.

"It's just hard for me to fathom how there becomes this perception that at the moment there are only two teams that are truly competitive in the league".

This year, the Warriors will use Durant as they did Barnes, giving the Cavaliers much more to think about. He averaged 7.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, shot 36 percent from the floor and 26 percent from beyond the arc. He missed 20 games after injuring his knee in March. All significant hands are healthy, unlike the past two Finals.

For four straight quarters in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers were plagued by turnovers, and that led to a second-half collapse against the Celtics in Game 3 and a sluggish start to Game 4. What's more, the those teams beat two of the weakest teams to make the Finals in the modern era (the '01 Sixers and '96 Sonics).

Durant took his former Oklahoma City Thunder team to the NBA Finals in 2012, where they fell in five games to a Miami Heat squad that featured current Cavaliers forward LeBron James. With a historically-dominant team standing in his path to back-to-back championships - rendering the Cavs the underdogs, according to some - LeBron has plenty to think about in the immediate future. He then returned briefly before injuring himself again, missing the next four games. Now hes ready to help avenge last years disappointment.