This was the Cleveland Cavaliers' fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, and fifth appearance overall. This is also the eighth consecutive NBA Finals appearance for LeBron James.
Prior to the 2017–18 season, point guard Kyrie Irving demanded to be traded away from the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers agreed to his request, trading Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for point guard Isaiah Thomas, small forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Žižić, the first round pick from the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft and the Miami Heat's 2020 second round pick. Miami's second round pick was added as compensation after Isaiah Thomas failed his physical. Other major changes included shooting guard Dwyane Wade signing with the Cavaliers, thus reuniting with James from their time together on the Big Three-era Miami Heat, and the signing of point guard Derrick Rose to a one-year contract.
On February 8, 2018 – just before the NBA trade deadline – the Cavaliers radically changed their roster in a little more than an hour, acquiring George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. in exchange for Thomas, Rose, Crowder, Wade, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and their own 2018 first-round pick. Multiple writers argued at the time that the trades made the Cavaliers significantly better.
The Cavaliers finished the 2017–18 regular season with a 50–32 record, securing the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, the Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers in seven games in the first round, swept the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and defeated the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Golden State Warriors
This was the Golden State Warriors' fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. During the 2017–18 offseason, the Warriors resigned their core players, including Stephen Curry to a five-year contract worth $201 million, and Kevin Durant to a two-year, $53 million contract. Golden State also resigned Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, and David West. A major free agent acquired during the offseason was guard Nick Young.
The Warriors finished the 2017–18 regular season with a 58–24 record, winning the Pacific Division and securing the 2nd seed in the Western Conference. In the playoffs, Golden State defeated the San Antonio Spurs in five games in the first round, eliminated the New Orleans Pelicans in five games in the Western Conference semifinals, and defeated the Houston Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
The Warriors entered the series as heavy favorites.
Road to the Finals
Regular season series
The Warriors won the regular season series 2–0.