Warriors

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Warriors

The Warriors have the best odds of winning the 2019 NBA title. The Celtics have the second-best odds.

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving is confident that his squad will hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June, though.

"Can we beat Golden State in a seven-game series? Yes," Irving told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "Because of who we have, and what we're establishing here, not just for this season, but for hopefully for the next few years, something that's pretty special.

"I've played against Golden State in three straight Finals -- two that I was able to participate in -- and seeing them evolve, with the talent they have, and then adding DeMarcus Cousins, it's like, 'OK, the whole league is on notice.'

"But there's one factor that they're aware of, and I'm aware of, and that's that I've seen them up close. I've played them so many times. We've gone in a seven-game series, so I know what it takes."

Yes, he does.

Over Games 3 through 7 in the 2016 Finals, Kyrie averaged 30.8 points and 4.4 assists while shooting just under 51 percent from the field (he also made a kind of important shot late in Game 7).

The five-time All-Star averaged 29.4 points and 4.4 assists on 47 percent shooting in the 2017 Finals.

Over the past couple of years, the Warriors' star players have consistently praised Kyrie, and they genuinely respect his game. That feeling is mutual, as Kyrie understands the immense challenge that lies ahead.

 

"How do I communicate to our guys that this is the top-tier team, and we have to grow immensely in the next six months to beat them consistently? Not just one game, not just two, but in a seven-game series, because they're so dang great," Kyrie said. "They're a powerhouse."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller