No surprise: It's Cavs-Warriors in the NBA Finals, again

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Golden State, trying to regain the National Basketball Association title they won in 2015 but surrendered to the Cleveland Cavaliers a year ago, await the victor of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and Cavaliers. Game 1 is next Thursday, and the tension between two giants that have spent most of the past three years eyeing each other will be released.

A number of James' points have come against the legendary Celtics franchise.

Notes: Center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 at San Antonio in the Western Conference finals with a bruised right heel, is back going through full practices in preparation to play in his first career Finals.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook installed Golden State as a minus-260 favorite, with Cleveland at plus-220, meaning a $100 bet on the Warriors would win $38.46 and the same bet on the Cavaliers would win $220, according to ESPN.

James had come into the contest needing 28 points to pass Jordan - victor of six titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s - for first on the post-season scoring list.

After this year's lackluster NBA playoffs, buckle up: The Warriors and Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year.

In addition to leading all scorers he had eight assists and eight rebounds.

Kyrie Irving - who scored 42 points in Cleveland's game-four victory - added 24 points and Kevin Love contributed 15.

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But for the third year in a row, the Cavs enter the NBA Finals as the underdog.

The Celtics made some noise near the end of the first half, but Irving scored Cleveland's first 11 points in the first 3:18 of the second half before two baskets by James ballooned the lead to 25 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.

Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue explained to reporters that without Isaiah Thomas, it's been tough to figure out how to guard the Celtics - even tougher than it is when facing the Warriors.

As Cleveland faltered in the regular season, the Celtics had seized the top seed in the East. The Celtics never led in the three games in Boston. And while James now leads in the playoff point totals, he still lags Jordan's regular-season point total. Paul George and the Pacers yielded 34.3 points on 54.3 percent shooting to James in the opening round, and the Raptors, with a combination of defenders including P.J. Tucker, gave up 36.0 points on 57.3 percent shooting.

The bucket was part of a 35-point effort that also featured eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals. The Cavaliers' only loss came in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics.

"We're definitely disappointed. I felt like if we weren't, it would be a problem", Bradley said.

Durant's free-agent move to the Warriors during the off-season and the need to jettison championship winners Harrison Barnes and Bogut to fit his salary put more scrutiny on Golden State but it has mattered not.

Draymond Green just doesn't see the logic: How could three straight NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland possibly be boring?

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