Durant not feeling pressure of NBA Finals expectations

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Durant not feeling pressure of NBA Finals expectations

Golden State is a ideal 12-0 in the 2017 National Basketball Association playoffs entering their Finals showdown with the Cavs.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) moves the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the second half in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors square off - again - in the NBA Finals. Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving shoots during an NBA basketball practice, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors became just the third National Basketball Association team since the 1956-57 season to enter the finals without having lost a playoff game, and their dominance has led many to complain that the postseason has become nothing more than a formality.

For those with short memories, this is also the same James who somehow got Cleveland to the 2007 NBA Finals while playing alongside Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Sasha Pavolvic.

Even if he puts up fantastic numbers, James will bear the burden of failure if Golden State wins the championship.

As tipoff of Game 1 of the NBA Finals neared Thursday night, the Warriors remained entrenched as 7-point favorites over the Cavaliers at most Las Vegas sports books.

When Kevin Durant joined the talent-rich Golden State Warriors the pressure was on for him to land an elusive title in his first season with his new team but on the eve of the NBA Finals he said the expectations would not rattle him.

"I think that the foundation that's he's laid on that team and influence he's had on that team, stays with them", says Cleveland's Shumpert. If Durant takes $4 million less than he is entitled to this offseason and then signs another one-and-one deal at approximately $35.7 million the following summer, he can then sign his own "supermax" deal for an estimated five years and $217 million starting in the 2019-2020 season. They are 12-0 in the playoffs. On top of his versatility and solid defense, he's shooting 47 percent from 3-point range in the postseason, tops on a team with some of the best shooters in the world.

Warriors Draymond Green center dunks during the second half
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The Warriors, by virtue of having compiled the best record in the league during the regular season, will host Game 1. The finalists reached this point with a combined playoff record of 24-1.

Once, the two players seemed destined to be traded for each other, with Minnesota reportedly offering up their then superstar for a Thompson-led package before Golden State's emergence in 2015. Part of their poor final numbers come from their final two months when their overall effort level was wanting, but they still aren't a good defensive team.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are outstanding players for the Cavaliers.

This year could be different. I just don't see it. The final stats show the Warriors outshot the Cavaliers 37.3 percent to 32.9 percent on 3-pointers a year ago, but don't be misled. With the Oklahoma City Thunder, he made the 2012 NBA Finals, only to finish second to James and the Miami Heat. His scoring average (32.5 points per game) is his second-best in the postseason after the 35.3 he averaged in 2009, and he's also making 42 percent of his 3-point attempts, a postseason personal best.

"Whenever you're in the playoffs against a team a bunch of times, you start to get annoyed a little bit because you know the other guy and you want to kick his butt and you want to outplay him every possession", Cleveland center Tristan Thompson said.

"We'll use it as fuel, use it as motivation", Love said. "So as long as I perform at this stage now and play my hardest, that's all I can ask for".

Bohls: I like Ian Clark, the smooth-shooting point guard of the future for the Warriors (whenever that future comes) and Shaun Livingstone, the 6-7 swingman who can give opponents fits. Unlike last season's Finals, Curry appears healthy.

"Obviously not really dealing with any bumps or bruises really besides this elbow that's not really a factor", Curry said. He's in better health now, even while wearing a sleeve over his elbow to protect some swelling.

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