Keys to the Finals

THE MVPs

Four-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) LeBron James for Cleveland and two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry for Golden State bring emotional and physical strengths as the National Basketball Association's top stars.

James is more versatile and can make an impact in more ways but Curry's three-point sharpshooting is a wonder and can be just as much a dagger in the heart of a rival as a LeBron slam dunk.

SUPPORTING CAST

Cleveland have guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Love healthy this time around and how they fare against Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be crucial.

Sometimes, unheralded heroes can have great impact when a title is on the line. And last year, it was Andre Iguodala who came off Golden State's deep bench last year to earn the Finals MVP award.

James carried the team on his back a year ago with Love and Irving hurt. He will not need such lone-wolf heroics this time, which should make him even more dangerous.

REST

Golden State trailed Oklahoma City 1-3 in the Western Conference Finals before winning the last three games.

With only two days to recover, the Warriors must face a Cleveland squad who won their first nine play-off games and have had five days off.

A home defeat in Game 1 or 2 could put Golden State in another tight fix.

MOTIVATION

Cleveland have not feted a sporting champion since 1964. James has been a loser in four of his six NBA Finals appearances, two each with Miami and Cleveland although he took two titles with the Heat.

The Warriors do not want the embarrassment of not winning a title after their record-setting 73-9 season and the epic comeback over Oklahoma City.

They will also need more than one title to cement a dynastic legacy.

THREE-POINTERS

Curry set an NBA record with 402 three-pointers this season, shattering his old mark by 116.

Golden State were the first team in NBA history to make 1,000 treys in a season.

But, if the hotshots from beyond the arc have an off night, the Cavs have some solid outside shooting as part of a more versatile and balanced attack.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'Keys to the Finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe