The 2017 NBA Finals creates a trilogy matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This will be the tiebreaker for the trilogy as GSW won the championship in2015 and Cleveland in 2016. At this point, the relationship between these two teams have turned from opposite conference teams competing for an NBA title into a complete rivalry where each team is looking to destroy the other. The Warriors have been making their feelings towards the Cavs known to the media. Draymond Green stated in the beginning of this season that if his team were to meet the Cavs in the Finals that he wants to “annihilate” them. Meanwhile, the Cavs have been trying to take a more subtle route with their words but have using their actions to display their feelings. During a Halloween party hosted by Lebron James himself, there was a set up of a band of skeletons and the drum was decorated with “3-1 lead” on the base of it. There were also cookies decorated with graves that had several player’s names on it from the Warriors roster. It’s obvious they know they are each other’s best competitor currently and the history they are creating together cannot go unnoticed within their respected locker rooms.
Fast forward to Christmas Day where the two teams met for the first time since the 2016 Finals and since the Warriors acquired Kevin Durant. Some sought it out to be a rematch of the 2016 Finals. Others, like myself, envisioned it as a preview of what was to come when the 2017 Finals came around. Either way, the game was far from disappointing and in my own opinion, it was the best game of the 2016-2017 regular season. It was a thrilling battle from the first minute to the 48th minute. Kyrie hit another clutch shot to bring the Cavs up with 3.4 seconds remaining in which, ultimately sealed a victory. On January 16th they played again but the game was a dominating, 35-point blowout in GSW’s favor where they hit 15 3’s and out-rebounded the Cavs 58-35.
Since their final game versus the Warriors in the season, the Cavs went through a season slump ending their season with a 22-20 record. Meanwhile the Warriors had their own type of “slump” since then. They lost nine games which is as many as they lost the entire 2015-2016 season with a couple stretches of multiple losses in a row. Now, to every other team in the league, that is far from a slump. Although, losing just is not something the Warriors have been used to these past few seasons. During that stretch, they were without Kevin Durant who was dealing with a knee injury so they had to find a rhythm without their most efficient scorer but once they found it, they kept the ball rolling like they never lost a beat and it made people wonder if they even really needed KD to come back. But of course they need Durant if they plan on defeating the defending champions. They need his relentless scoring and lack of fear during clutch situations. After Durant came back, they swept their way into the Finals with a historic 12-0 record in this year’s postseason. On the other hand, with the Cavs it seemed like their end-of-season slump was due to straight fatigue. Kevin Love was out for most of that slump also because of a knee injury although there was more reasons to why the Cavs were playing their worst basketball since Lebron re-joined the team in 2014. Turns out, the world was wrong and they were not exactly fatigued, they just weren’t playing at full pace. The Cavs were jogging their way through the season and that was evident when they swept their way to the Eastern Conference Finals and reached the Finals with an 11-1 record.
You can call this Finals matchup anything you would like but above all adjectives for this matchup, there is one that stands out. Inevitable. Lebron dominates the Eastern Conference so it was almost a sure bet in a lot of people’s minds that he would be back in the Finals with his team to defend their title. The Western Conference had several potential contenders to come out the west and play for the title in the Finals…until Kevin Durant made the decision to join the Golden State Warriors. At that moment, GSW became everybody’s favorite to win the title, let alone make it out the west. They just added a top 3 superstar in the league to their already stacked team that has the reigning two-time league MVP and 2 other All-Stars. This series is the most star-studded matchup since the 1987 NBA Finals when the Lakers and Celtics faced off with a total of 6 All-Stars (3 on each team). Get your popcorn and drinks out. We are in for an exhilarating series.