The Golden State Warriors are looking for back-to-back championships. The Cleveland Cavaliers are seeking their first-ever NBA title.
The story of the 2016 NBA Finals-- a rematch of last year's finals, which Golden State won in six games-- begins in Oakland on Thursday night.
Here are three questions and a prediction for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
1. Do the regular-season results matter?
The Warriors enjoyed a two-game sweep of the Cavaliers during the regular season, including a 34-point dismantling of LeBron & Co. in Cleveland on Jan. 19. Were those two games a sign of things to come, or will the red-hot Cavs turn the tables on the Warriors?
2. Can the Cavs handle the Warriors' crowd?
Oakland's Oracle Arena is known as one of the toughest places to play in all of professional sports. Including the playoffs, the Warriors are 48-3 at home this season, including an 89-83 win over Cleveland on Christmas Day. But can the Cavs set the tone by stealing home-court advantage from Golden State in the series opener?
3. Who will shoot better from the outside?
Golden State has arguably the two best outside shooters in the game in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But the Cavs have actually been the NBA's best 3-point-shooting team during the playoffs (43.4 percent), while the Warriors are third at 40.3 percent. Can Cleveland keep up with Golden State by staying hot from the outside?
Last year's Game 1 matchup between the Warriors and Cavs was decided in overtime (a Golden State victory), but don't look for this one to be quite as closely contested. Cleveland is playing its best basketball of the season, but the Warriors will be at home and have a ton of momentum after winning three straight games over the Oklahoma City Thunder to return to the finals. Look for Curry and Thompson to come out hot and lead Golden State to a series-opening win.
Warriors 102, Cavaliers 92