The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meet for the fourth consecutive year in the NBA Finals beginning later tonight. Both rosters have changed quite a bit since the initial battle in 2015, and in the Cavs case, massive roster turnover came at the NBA Trade Deadline in February. As the teams enter tonight’s game, CBS Local’s Matt Yurus checked in with KPIX Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell and CBS Dallas/Fort Worth sports reporter and anchor Keith Russell to get their thoughts on the match-up, who will be the X-factor for each side, and more.
CBS Local: Who is the X-factor for each team?
Dennis O’Donnell: For the Golden State Warriors, it is Kevin Durant. He has scored more points in the Western Conference Finals than anybody else in NBA history. His effort has been questioned at times, but not his delivering the goods. I think he’ll do that in these NBA Finals, because I don’t think Cleveland really has the personnel to match-up and defend Kevin Durant.
Keith Russell: J.R. Smith. Do I think he is one of the best players in this series? No. I think he has the ability to make shots, to make timely shots, to make deep shots and to make momentum changing shots. If he can do that, if he can give the Cleveland Cavaliers 15 to 20 points a night, I think they really have a shot. If he does what he’s done so far in the post season which is, nothing, then Cleveland has no shot.
CBS Local: How will this series affect LeBron’s legacy?
Dennis O’Donnell: If LeBron actually wins, if the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors, he will cement his legacy as the greatest player in NBA history. The comparison and conversation with Michael Jordan is out the door then.
Keith Russell: Whether LeBron wins or whether he loses, LeBron James is the best player in NBA history, hands down. Coby, our camera guy is peeking around the camera at me. But, LeBron James is the best player in NBA history. If he wins this series, I think he cements his spot in NBA history.
As for predictions for the series? The guys were split with Dennis going with the Warriors in 5 and Keith taking the Cavaliers in 6.
For more of the guys thoughts on where the Warriors rank among the sport’s top dynasties, check out the video above.