The 2018 NBA Finals get underway on Thursday, and for the first time in league history — in fact, in the history of any of the four major North American pro sports leagues, according to WBZ in Boston — the same two teams will play for the championship as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meet in Game 1, which will live stream from Oakland, California.
The matchup will also mark the eighth straight year that LeBron James will play for an NBA title, according to Forbes. James has won three titles, the first two coming in 2012 and 2013 when James was a member of the Miami Heat. But in 2016, in his second year back with Cleveland, he led the Cavaliers to their first and, so-far, only NBA championship in the 49-year history of the franchise.
To find out how to watch a live stream of the 2018 NBA Finals Game 1, see the streaming information at the bottom of this article. Opening tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Thursday, May 31. In the Eastern Time Zone, the live stream will get underway at 9 p.m.
In the 1980s — from 1980 through 1989 — either the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers appeared in the NBA Finals in every year, according to NBA.com. But the two teams faced each other only three times during that span, and back-to-back only once, in 1984 and 1985.
But will anyone outside of Cleveland or California's Bay Area be watching the fourth consecutive NBA Finals matchup between the Cavaliers and Warriors? According to an analysis by the entertainment news service The Wrap, the NBA shouldn't be worried about TV ratings, at least probably not.
In the 1990s, when Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six championships in eight seasons, according to Basketball Reference, including two streaks of three Finals wins in a row, they averaged more than 20 million viewers.
While Jordan is long gone from the NBA, the Cavaliers have James, and the Warriors also feature a star-studded roster, which is expected to create a draw for fans.
"LeBron James being in the Finals is never bad for business," said former NBA coach-turned-TV-announcer Jeff Van Gundy, who will provide curtsied analysis for ABC. "The Warriors are such a team of superior talent that (Kevin) Durant, (Stephen) Curry, (Play) Thompson, you know, they are going to always be a big draw."
Watch a preview of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors from NBA TV in the video below.To watch a free live stream of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors NBA Finals Game 1 showdown, log in to ESPN3, the free, online-only network of the sports media giant ESPN. The ESPN3 streaming network is free with almost any internet service provider subscription.
Another way to watch the first game of the 2018 NBA Finals with a free live stream, but without a cable subscription, is for fans to sign up for a free trial of one of the "over the top" streaming TV packages, such as Sling TV, or YouTube TV, or DirecTV Now. All of those services require credit card information and will charge subscription fees. But they each offer a seven-day free trial period, and if the subscription is canceled prior to the expiration of that weeklong trial, fans can watch the Cavaliers vs. Warriors Game 1 live stream for free.