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Back again: Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers to open the 2018 NBA Finals at usual site

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Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James watches his shot as his teammates stretch behind him during an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 30, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

OAKLAND, Calif. — The NBA Finals start up right where they finished last year, and right where they’ve opened every year since 2015.

Golden State hosts Cleveland on Thursday night to begin the record fourth straight NBA Finals meeting between the teams. The Warriors have had home-court advantage each time and won Game 1 in all three previous series. They went on to win last year’s title in five games.

Golden State will be without 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala as he continues to recover from a bone bruise in his left knee. The Cavaliers got good news earlier today when they found out Kevin Love will be cleared to play after missing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals with a concussion.

Cleveland and Golden State were stressed and stretched to their limits in the conference finals this time around, leaving little time to recoup and prepare for their latest showdown in the NBA Finals.

“Splintered” is how Stephen Curry described what he feared could happen in the second quarter of Game 7 at Houston, with the Warriors pushed to the brink by the Rockets.

Golden State held a serious team chat and got it together at last. LeBron James willed his Cavaliers back to the big stage with another spectacular performance against Boston.

“It was a special moment for us. And I think one that we’ll look back, if we get the job done over these next two weeks, where, again, as an appreciation of all that goes into winning a championship,” Curry said Wednesday.

“And we’ve done it by appreciating everybody that’s a part of that group. I think that two and a half minutes was a special moment for us, and it should give us great momentum going into the series.”

King James stands in the way of a Warriors repeat, just as he did in spoiling that quest for Golden State and leading the Cavs to a championship two years ago with a Game 7 win on the Warriors’ home court, where they have currently won 17 of the last 18 postseason games

James never counted out Golden State.

“Just going against the Warriors in the last three years in the Finals, I kind of figured or thought that they could get it done,” he said. “Just because of the 18 of a possible 21 Finals games that I’ve played against them in the last three years, I figured out that they could make it happen.”

Here are some things to watch for heading into the best-of-seven series:

JAMES’ SHOT

James isn’t ready to make any bold predictions about how great he might be in his eighth straight Finals.

Yet the way he prepares, there’s no doubt in his mind he will be ready when the ball tips.

“The level that I can play at is to be seen, but the level that I put into the game and put into my craft is who I am,” James said. “So numbers and things like that kind of take care of itself. But for me, I understand and I know how much I put into the game. So everything else is OK.”

NO REST FOR THE WEARY

With only two days between games after the Warriors eliminated the Rockets 101-92 on Monday night, Draymond Green is happy to have an opponent in Cleveland he knows so well.

“In recent years we’ve been kind of having a week off, at most, to prepare for the Finals. It’s almost a day to prepare this time,” he said. “So it definitely helps knowing the opponent, knowing, obviously, everything stops and starts with LeBron, and trying to do what we can to make things tough on him, but also take other guys out of the game.”

The Cavs finished their series Sunday at Boston, so James spent a relaxing Memorial Day Monday with family having a barbecue.

GOLDEN STATE AMONG GREATEST

James considers Golden State among the greatest teams ever, and insists each side has earned this. James is ignoring the critics who say this annual matchup might be bad for basketball.

“Teams have had their opportunities to beat the Cavs over the last four years and teams have had opportunities to beat the Warriors over the last four years,” James said. “If you want to see somebody else in the postseason then you’ve got to beat ’em.”

Be sure to follow game one on Twitter @swjournalist.

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Back again: Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers to open the 2018 NBA Finals at usual site