James Passes Jordan, Cavs Back In Finals With 135-102 Win

The operating champion of NBA “Cleveland” for the third consecutive time the championship rings will argue with the “Golden State”

In Act 2, the Cavaliers rose from an impossible 3-1 Finals hole - exactly as you'd expect a trilogy to script the climax of its second movie - to stun a Warriors team that was gleefully standing on Cleveland's grave, so sure they were about to punctuate a league-record 73-win season with a title.

The NBA's championship eras have always been built by its biggest stars.

Obstacles different even than the Warriors, who await the victor of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Cleveland regulars were 16 of 33 from behind the arc through three quarters-after the Cavs went 19 of 39 on treys in a 44-point win in Game 2.

James played in his 212th career postseason game on Thursday night, when the Cavaliers met the Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The entire series was played at the Polo Grounds, home to both teams that season. This will be deemed a rubber match, as the Warriors won it in 2015 in six and Cleveland won in 2016 in seven.

Golden State led the league with 67 wins this season and is a staggering 27-1 in its last 28 games - including a ideal 12-0 in the Western Conference playoffs, the first time a team has gone this deep into an National Basketball Association postseason without losing.

Kevin Durant is the Warriors' best player. It's very, very hard for a team these days to win two years in a row. So you have to appreciate it. "We're not where we need to be".

Already, the back-and-forth is underway.

Golden State failed to cover in Game 1s against the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs, and Cleveland is 5-0-2 against the spread on the road this postseason.

Nearly immediately in the first round, both teams made it clear they have no equal in their respective conferences. (We won) Game 3 and we nearly had Game 4; I was at home cheering and getting even more hyped, jumping up. I know that both sides are relatively exhausted at this point of the season, but that just makes it an even playing field. We knew that would happen at some point. "We have to be ready for the challenge". Thursday was about James inching closer to Jordan, not the Finals matchup looming out West.

For Durant, this trip ends a five-year wait.

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Durant's decision to leave an excellent team in Oklahoma City and join the only team that finished ahead of the Thunder in the West renewed questions about the league's ability to create parity in a superteam era.

James, who was joined on the podium by team-mates, pointed out that it was a special moment for Deron Williams and Kyle Korver, two veterans heading to the Finals for the first time in their careers.

LeBron James called the Warriors a "juggernaut", and Green said "there's always a mutual respect".

James also had eight rebounds and eight assists on Thursday night.

They'll collide again, starting next week.

Thomas said his hip has been "a little different my whole life".

"Whatever they have to do to continue to play at - not just a normal level - at an MVP level, that's what I've been on the doctors about", he said.

"Since I fell down in March, I think that's what aggravated it", he explained.

As a team, the Cavaliers outrebounded the Celtics, 37-29, and forced 12 turnovers, which resulted in 15 points. They've been super-impressive. It's kind of in our minds that that's who we were going to see. More episodes means more time to watch characters navigate situations, more time for narrow character windows to grow a little bigger, more time for freaky plot turns and more time for storylines to pivot yet again. Can James win his fourth ring? Durant certainly wasn't the first player to seek an instant championship through free agency. Will the Warriors be haunted by letting last season's 3-1 lead slip away? Soon, James will become the first National Basketball Association player in history to score 6,000 career points in playoffs. How will Cleveland try to contain Curry?

"I don't care who you're playing, to make it to the NBA Finals, to win your conference finals, it's a big task", Brown said.

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