After storming back from a 3-1 series hole to overtake the Golden State Warriors in the Finals last June, a 14-point fourth quarter deficit on Christmas Day was nothing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives past Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant (35) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) drives past Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant (35) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cavs showed tremendous resolve in battling back to surprise Golden State, again, despite the latter’s addition of Kevin Durant in a 109-108 thriller. One game shouldn’t be the end-all for predicting a possible Finals outcome, but after seeing these two teams play in the championship series the last two summers and considering Cleveland’s near upset in the 2015 Finals without Irving or Kevin Love, the question remains: does Cleveland have Golden State’s number? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this question.

Green: I think they do. Cleveland’s roster is constructed perfectly around James with playmaking, three-point shooting and intangibles. James’ brilliance alone almost trumps the efforts of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. And when you add in the remainder of the Cavs’ roster, it might even be enough to counter the addition of Durant, as we’ve witnessed. The Warriors have been the darling over the last few seasons, but Cleveland is a more complete and confident team when the two powers square off.

Riley: One game from this season won’t be enough to convince me that the Cavs can handle this new super-charged Warriors lineup. Durant’s still being worked into the rotation, so who knows how the Warriors will look by season’s end. We’re pretty much pencilling in the Warriors against the Cavaliers for next summer’s Finals—unless some catastrophe happens—and that will be the final indicator. Regular season wins don’t mean much; Golden State themselves proved that last season in winning 73 games and losing the Finals. Durant, Thompson, Curry and Green is a tremendous foursome and I still don’t see how Cleveland contains that in a seven-game series, despite the presence of James.

Green: All of those names sound great on paper, but that’s where it stops. The Warriors had a “superteam” last season and came away with nothing once James flipped the superstar switch on. Sometimes continuity and cohesion makes up a list of superstar names, but let’s not act like Cleveland doesn’t compare in terms of firepower. Cleveland didn’t add another perennial all-star last summer but they did retain the core of the team that took home the 2016 championship and I’m convinced they’ll do it again. They have Golden State’s number, and that 3-1 debacle will forever be in the back of their heads.

Riley: The fact that the Warriors were up 3-1 tells a whole different story to me. The Warriors let a golden chance slip out of their hands and brought Durant in to make sure that they don’t experience that feeling again. It took a series of favorable circumstances for Cleveland to beat Golden State in their Christmas battle, and it took even more for the Warriors to lose their 3-1 series lead. Another Finals matchup would be the decider in a potential three-year matchup and the Warriors have all the pieces to prove last summer’s outcome was a fluke.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk