5 things to know about the NBA Finals

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a shot against Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kyle Terada/Pool/Getty Images)
Caption
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a shot against Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kyle Terada/Pool/Getty Images)

Credit: Pool

Credit: Pool

Another June, another NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Here is what you need to know about the league’s championship series that kicks off Thursday night in California.

1. The same teams are meeting for an unprecedented fourth season in a row. 

Golden State won two of the first three meetings with Cleveland, including a five-game domination last season.

The Warriors also beat an injury-depleted Cavs team in 2015, but LeBron James led Cleveland back from a three-games-to-one deficit in 2016 to deliver the title to his home state.

According to the NBA, none of the major U.S. sports leagues have had the same teams play for a championship four years in a row until now.

2. Every game starts at 9 p.m. except for the second, which will start at 8 p.m. 

That’s when the broadcasts are set to begin on ABC, anyway. The actual tip might be a bit later.

The second game is scheduled for Sunday night with game three in Cleveland next Wednesday and game four the following Friday. The last three games, if necessary, will be every third day after that.

Every game will be streamed on the ESPN app as well.

3. LeBron James is back for the eighth year in a row. 

If you’re a casual fan thinking, “Geez, this LeBron guy seems to be in the finals every year,” you’re not far off.

He has Cleveland in the last series of the season for the fourth straight year after taking Miami to four consecutive finals as well.

The feat has precedent, though, as multiple Boston Celtics also made at least eight consecutive finals in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

4. Many of the other Cavaliers have changed. 

This Cleveland team looks a lot different than last year’s.

Kyrie Irving demanded a trade and ended up in Boston, a move that did not work out and eventually prompted the Cavs to reshape their roster significantly at the trade deadline.

Kevin Love is still on the team, but his status for game one is unknown as he reportedly remains in concussion protocol.

Andre Iguodala, a key role player who recently moved into the start lineup for Golden State, has already been declared out with a bone bruise.

5. Golden State is a heavy favorite. 

Bovada is giving the Warriors 1/8 odds to win the series. They were getting 5/12 last year and in ’15 while going into the ’16 finals they lost at 10/21.

Odds of a Warriors sweep are 9/2.

A $1 bet on the Cavaliers to win in seven games would yield $20, while an improbable Cleveland sweep would pay $125.