Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
For the fourth straight season, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will face each other in the NBA Finals. The Warriors will host Game 1 of the best-of-seven series on Thursday, with tipoff scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.
ABC will televise the game, with Mike Breen (play-by-play) calling the action alongside color commentators Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. The pregame show (NBA Countdown) will air on ABC starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Here's a look at some news and notes prior to Game 1, along with a prediction.
News, Notes and Prediction
Per the Warriors' Public Relations team, Golden State guard/forward Andre Iguodala will not play Game 1 due to a left leg lateral contusion. Iguodala, who has posted 7.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in the playoffs, missed the last four games of the Western Conference Finals due to the injury.
Warriors forward Kevon Looney has started in Iguodala's place largely due to his defensive versatility. He was tasked with defending Rockets All-Star guard James Harden on numerous occasions during the playoffs and held his own. Looney has played 20.9 minutes per game since entering the starting lineup, averaging 4.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.
Iguodala's absence likely means another 15-20 minutes for Warriors forward Jordan Bell, who received a playing-time bump with Iguodala sidelined. The rookie posted 2.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 block per game in his last four contests, playing 17.3 minutes on average.
Iguodala's primary Game 1 task would have been providing defensive help on Cavs superstar LeBron James. Per head coach Steve Kerr (via Anthony Slater of The Athletic), it will be a group effort to defend James (as it is even with Iguodala on the court):
Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater
Steve Kerr said Iguodala's doing better today, "encouraging" signs, but is out for Game 1. Said KD, Klay, Livingston and Draymond will all get time on LeBron. https://t.co/E3pJ2A1Zou
Golden State's defense will have its hands full with James, but it may not be seeing the Cavs' second-leading scorer (Kevin Love). The big man entered the league's concussion protocol after a collision with Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Love left the game and did not play in Game 7.
Signs don't look good for a Game 1 return. Per Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today, Love was not available for Media Day on Wednesday due to his placement in the league's concussion protocol. Dave McMenamin of ESPN also provided an update via Cavs head coach Ty Lue on Wednesday:
Dave McMenamin @mcten
Ty Lue says that he hopes Kevin Love will play in Game 1, but he is still unsure if that happens. He said he will not being Love off the bench. If he plays, he starts.
At this point, it seems like Love's best bet for a return would be Game 2 on Sunday, meaning that Jeff Green will be the Cavs' likely replacement in the Game 1 starting lineup. Green filled in for Love in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and played very well, scoring 19 points (on 7-of-14 shooting) and grabbing eight rebounds in 42 minutes.
With Love likely out, it wouldn't be surprising to see more of forward Larry Nance Jr. The former Los Angeles Laker played just eight minutes in Game 7, but Nance is a good bet to be a bigger part of the rotation, especially against a Warriors team that pushes the pace more than the Celtics. Nance is best in the open court, where he's free to provide fast-break buckets.
Ultimately, it's hard seeing a path for the Cavaliers winning Game 1 barring LeBron James posting something akin to a 50-point triple-double. Of course, nearly anything is possible for James, who has made eight straight NBA Finals and has posted 34.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.8 assists per 2018 playoff game.
But the likely loss of Love, who averaged 18.0 points and 11.1 rebounds in his last eight full games, should be too much for the Cavs to overcome against a Warriors team with three elite scorers in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
The Cavs are a 13-point underdog, per OddsShark, with the over/under total set at 214.5 points. Look for the final deficit and game totals around those marks, with the Cavs hanging around until the fourth quarter but unable to mount a serious charge at victory.
Pick: Warriors 112, Cavaliers 99
This news has been published by title NBA Playoffs 2018: Finals Schedule, TV Info For Cavs Vs. Warriors
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