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BOSTON, MA - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates his dunk in the third quarter as Jae Crowder #99 of the Boston Celtics looks on during Game Five of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 25, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.

OPINION: Lebron Vs. KD Is An NBA Finals Matchup To Relish Over

The 2017 NBA Finals do not kick off until June 1 at Oracle Arena, but there are already several storylines regarding both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors in the third installment of this Finals rivalry.

Perhaps no angle is bigger than the intriguing finals matchup of Lebron James and Kevin Durant, which last featured James on the Miami Heat and Durant a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now on stacked powerhouses, each has something to prove coming into this series.

For James, this Warriors team may be dubbed as his biggest task yet in adding to his already impressive resume. Pitted as an underdog by everyone but himself, James values the importance of proving doubters wrong and taking on that underdog role, as he knows that anyone who has watched him play in the past six NBA Finals match ups knows that he has the ability to silence critics, and both know it.

It has been Lebron’s best season statistically since returning to Cleveland, marked by a boisterous 32.5 points per game mark this postseason. While he has had questions about his workload and durability surround him this season in particular, it has not seemed to concern James one bit.

James is currently 3-4 in the Finals all-time, and has an even 3-3 split in his current streak of appearances. To mount a .500 mark on his career, and above that on a remarkable streak would speak volume to his legacy that has the ability to further cement him as one of the best of all time. With players such as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love playing top-notch basketball, ‘Believeland’ has a chance to do so for the second straight season.

But if there is one player that has given Golden State the opportunity to keep a 3-1 lead safe, it’s Kevin Durant.

After nine seasons with Thunder franchise, Durant has zero championship rings to boast. Deciding that now was the time to try and win, he joined the very team that took him out – and was initially ridiculed for it.

Although not 73-9 like last season, the Warriors have given critics the idea that they can win it all. Although Durant missed a total of 22 games during the regular season and postseason, he has justified his reason for joining Golden State.

The reason? To get over the hump and play on the best possible team in order to help him earn his first ring. He has to continue to play strong like he has during the postseason to make that dream a reality.

Averaging 25.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, Durant is also shooting career postseason highs from the field (55.6%) and three-point range (41.7%). Playing on a Warriors team that is favorited, Durant gives Golden State a different edge from last year.

Each team brings a loaded core to the Finals, but only one will be able to outlast the other.


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Written by Matthew Lamb