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Round 4: It’s Cleveland vs. Golden State, again

LeBron James being guarded by Stephen Curry. (Internet Photo)

Round 4: It’s Cleveland vs. Golden State, again

Here we go again.

And again.

And, well, again.

Round 4 — as many predicted, and others probably lamented — is happening. Cleveland and Golden State will meet for the fourth straight year in the NBA Finals, the Warriors looking for a third championship in that span and LeBron James and the Cavaliers trying to wrestle the crown away just as they did in the 2016 series.

On one side, the best team of this era.

LeBron James with the Smooth layup. (Internet Photo)

On the other, the best player of this era and maybe any era.

Game 1 will be hosted by the Warriors at Oracle Arena on Thursday night.

“You’ve got to appreciate the moment,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “Somebody asked, ‘Four years in a row getting to the finals, do you appreciate it?’ Yes.”

Both teams are entering this title matchup with injury concerns. Cleveland’s Kevin Love is in the concussion protocol and will need to complete a series of tests before he’s cleared to return, and Golden State’s Andre Iguodala — a former NBA Finals MVP — wasn’t able to finish the Warriors-Rockets series because of a bone bruise in his leg.

The Warriors hoped Iguodala would return to the Houston series, but his progress stalled.

“That’s just not an easy injury to predict in terms of recovery,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

There wasn’t a lot of similarity in Cleveland’s and Golden State’s seasons, but their last few days have been mirror images of one another — both teams had to win Game 6s at home to fend off elimination, then had to go on the road and prevail in Game 7s to win their respective conference finals.

“One of the most challenging seasons I’ve had,” said James, who may be playing the best basketball of his life right now at the end of his 15th season.

Here’s some of what the Cavaliers have dealt with since Golden State-Cleveland III ended last June: Kyrie Irving got traded for Isaiah Thomas over the summer, coach Tyronn Lue had to miss time to deal with health issues, Love missed two months, they lost 11 games by 16 or more points, revamped their roster in February and spent much of the season unable to guard anybody.

They’re in the finals again anyway, led by someone who will play in the last series of the season for an absurd eighth consecutive year.

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