The impact of Iguodala's absence
Andre Iguodala, who has been ruled out for Game 1 due to a left leg injury, will miss his fifth-consecutive postseason game.
Without the 2015 Finals MVP, Golden State has been unable to roll with its extremely problematic "Hamptons Five" lineup. Head coach Steve Kerr has gone with third-year big Kevon Looney to round out the Warriors' starting five. Starting alongside four All-Stars, Looney has played 21 minutes per game and averaged four points and 5.3 rebounds.
Though Looney and the starting unit have been fine, the Warriors rotation has taken the biggest hit due to the changes. In Games 4 through 7 of the Western Conference finals, the Warriors bench averaged just 10.8 points per game, a figure inflated by its 20 point outburst late in Golden State's Game 6 blowout of the Rockets.
In Game 1, Golden State's reserves will need to shoulder more of the offensive load when given the opportunity. An increased offensive output from the bench will put more pressure on the Cavs, whose hands are already full with the task of neutralizing the Warriors' All-Stars.
Game 1 LeBron
LeBron James has been on an absolute tear this postseason, averaging 34.0 points (on 54.2 percent shooting), 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists to help lead this Cavs team to the NBA Finals.
You would have to nitpick to find a flaw in James' play over this run. The one true complaint that could be made is that LeBron has been notably less efficient in Game 1 of each series.
The Cavs are 1-2 in Game 1s this postseason, losing by 18 and 25 points; James is averaging 21.7 points, 11.3 assists, 9.3 rebounds and 3.7 turnovers in those games.
Despite a near triple-double average (he posted triple-doubles in Game 1 of the first two rounds), LeBron's scoring is coming on 38.1 percent shooting from the field and he has connected on just one of 17 3-point attempts in Game 1s this year.
Tonight, watch for LeBron to assert himself differently to shake off his Game 1 woes. Cleveland goes as its MVP does, and will not be able to steal the series opener without a big performance from him.
"You live by the three, you die by the three", many often say. For the Golden State, which has three of the best shooters of all-time on its roster, dying by the three is not really fathomable.
In the Western Conference finals, the Warriors knocked down at least 13 3-pointers in each of its four wins and shot 38.2 percent from deep as a team in the series. 3-point shooting proved to be the difference in the series, as the Rockets shot 31.4 percent as a team and missed 27-consecutive threes in a close Game 7.
Cleveland is a completely different team when it is able to knock down long-range jumpers. In the Cavs' two series that went to seven games (Indiana, Boston), the team averaged just under 10 made 3-pointers a game shot at a 32 percent clip. In its sweep over the Raptors, Cleveland shot 41 percent from beyond the arc, connecting on 11.5 threes per game.
Along with James, Kyle Korver, Kevin Love, JR Smith, Jeff Green and Jordan Clarkson will all be looked upon to spread out Golden State's defense.
In Game 1 and throughout the series, Cleveland's 3-point shooting is what could keep things close; if the Cavs are unable to knock down shots, Golden State can blow things open with its shooting.