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Cavs coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t think Cleveland needs underdog mentality

LeBron James. Tristan Thompson

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are set to meet in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season, as most hoops fans know by now. The Warriors have been favored in all three of their previous meetings on this stage, and it sounds like that trend is going to continue — in a big way.

According to a report from ESPN, the Warriors are “overwhelming” favorites to win the title. In fact, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened Golden State as a -1,000 favorite to win this series — the largest Finals favorite in at least 16 seasons.

The Cavs, on the other hand, are currently listed as a +650 underdog. For perspective, the Cavs were roughly +360 underdogs against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 Finals. Cleveland was only +180 underdogs when they defeated the Warriors in the 2016 Finals.

Does being an underdog make a difference for the Cavs? Aside from it being familiar territory… not really.

Do the Cavs need the extra motivation that might come from being an underdog? Again, no.

Prior to boarding the team flight to Oakland on Tuesday morning, Cavs head coach Lue noted that being in the Finals should be motivation enough.

As David Purdum notes in his recent article for ESPN, Cavs superstar LeBron James has been an underdog in seven of his nine Finals appearances. The King still managed to walk away with three titles.

James is no stranger to the NBA’s biggest stage. He’s worked especially hard to get there this time, playing in all 82 regular season games for the first time in his career. In 18 playoff appearances this season, the Kid from Akron has racked up averages of 34.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field (34.3 percent from beyond the arc), 9.2 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks in 41.3 minutes per.

Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant, who posted 34 points in Golden State’s Game 7 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night, had high praise for James’s level of play ahead of their Finals matchup.

“I can’t even describe how he’s playing,” Durant told SLAM Magazine. “It’s like next-level basketball.”

Game 1 is set to tip inside Oracle Arena at 9:00 p.m. EST with ABC having live broadcast coverage. Will James and the Cavs deliver a second NBA title to the city of Cleveland?

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