Oddsmakers have the Cavaliers as underdogs to the Warriors. FiveThirtyEight, for instance, gives Golden State a 90 percent chance of winning this year’s Finals.
But don’t tell that to Kevin Love, who doesn’t see the Cavs that way.
“I don't feel like we're underdogs,” Love said after the Cavs’ first pre-Finals practice Saturday. “We match up well with them and I think they'd say the same about us.”
On one hand, Cleveland should be confident heading into their third straight meeting with Golden State. The Cavs have lost one game so far and it largely happened because LeBron James had one of the worst games of his playoff career. James, and Kyrie Irving, are coming off a strong series against the Celtics. And Love is playing the best playoff basketball of his Cavs career. As a result, the Cavs are outscoring opponents by 13.6 points per game — the third best margin in league history.
"The whole underdog thing is funny to me, because yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title," Love said. "We're trying to repeat, which is so hard to do. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? It's tough for me to say that is the case."
But on the other, the Warriors are the Warriors. They won 73 games last year and a lot had to go right for the Cavs to come back from 3-1. Then, they added Kevin Durant over the summer. Currently, Golden Sate is 12-0 in the playoffs — the first team ever to reach the Finals undefeated — and are winning games by an average margin of 16.3 points per game, the best mark in NBA history.
One way or another, whether it’s good or bad for the Cavs, the Finals will decide whether or not Cleveland should be an underdog. Game 1 is Thursday at 9 p.m. in Oakland.