The Golden State Warriors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals Monday night with a 96-88 defeat of the Oklahoma City in Game 7 before a raucous crowd in Oakland, Calif. The Finals kick off Thursday night at the Warriors home arena, OracleORCL -0.02% Center, with a rematch of last year’s duel withLeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Stephen Curry celebrates with the Western Conference Championship Trophy. (Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/Pool/Getty Images)
It is a dream Finals matchup for the NBA with the league’s two most popular players in James and Stephen Curry meeting on the biggest stage. The pair have captured six of the last eight MVP trophies awarded by the league and possess captivating narratives to draw in the casual basketball fan. A six or seven game series will likely crush last year’s Finals’ rating of 11.6, which was the highest since the 2001 Finals, according to NielsenNLSN +0.13%.
The Warriors have become the sexy NBA team that everyone loves to root for, similar to Michael Jordan’s 1990s Chicago Bulls teams, which became a global phenomenon. It wasn’t always that way. Before Warriors current four-year playoff streak, the Warriors made the postseason just once over 18 seasons.
James is appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals, which is something last done 50 years ago by the dynasty of the Boston Celtics. “It is very emotional to be a part of something like this,” said James on-court after the Cavs clinched their Finals trip. “This is my sixth straight. It means everything.”
Recommended by Forbes
Colorado Office of Economic DevelopmentVoice:Pressure To Grow More With Less Springs Innovation On Colorado Farms
Here are the numbers you need to know about the Warrirors-Cavs matchup.
0: NBA titles for the Cavs. The team has appeared in two Finals since its inception in 1971, including last year’s six-game loss to the Warriors.
1: Jersey sales rank by Curry. It is his second straight year leading the NBA in sales. James ranked third with a retiring Kobe Bryant sandwiched in between.
1: Curry became the first player in NBA history to win the MVP award by a unanimous vote.
3: The Warriors are the third defending champ to overcome a 3-1 deficit the following year after their title. They are the tenth team overall out of 232 to win after falling behind 3-1.
4: Championships in Warriors’ history, including two before the club’s move to California in 1962. The Philadelphia Warriors won the first title in league history in what was then-called the Basketball Association of America.
5.5: The Warriors opened as 5.5 point favorites over the Cavaliers for Game 1, according to the Westgate Super Book. They are -210 to win the series, meaning you have to bet $210 to win $100 on the defending champs. The Cavs are +180.
7: NBA Finals appearances by James, including the past six, as well as in 2007. His teams have won twice.
10.77: The Warriors’ per game point differential during the regular season, which ranked fifth-best all-time.
13: Times two NBA teams have met in back-to-back Finals.
24: Consecutive wins by the Warriors to start the season, which shattered the previous record of 15.
73: Warriors’ record win total during the regular season, breaking the mark of 72 held by the 1995-96 Bulls.
402: Three-pointers made by Curry during the regular season, which shattered the record he set last year of 286. He led the NBA in threes each of the past four seasons.
1077: Three-pointers made by the Warriors during the regular season, 13.1 per game. The old record was 933 or 11.4 per game set by the Houston Rockets last year.
1964: The last time a Cleveland team won a championship when the Browns won the NFL Championship game.
$11.4 million: Curry’s salary this season. It ranks No. 61 in the NBA and fifth on his own team.