Months have passed since the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors met in the NBA Finals, but the drama in the rivalry hasn't taken a step back. From the Warriors adding superstar Kevin Durant to their roster to the Cavaliers and LeBron James poking fun at the Dubs at their Halloween party, the teams have remained not only the two best in the league, but the most interesting.
All is well in Cleveland. James is coasting yet putting up some of the best numbers the league has ever seen. Kyrie Irving continues to showcase his talent as one of the league's top point guards. Kevin Love hasn't been in trade rumors and is playing the best basketball of his Cleveland career.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant and the Warriors look like a seamless tradition. Klay Thompson has proven he can be an elite scorer despite being the third option on the team. Draymond Green continues to make his case for Defensive Player of the Year. While some may say Stephen Curry is "struggling,” he's still putting up top All-Star numbers and is the point guard you either love or hate.
The Christmas Day match-up between the two teams who have won the last two NBA titles and met in the Finals for back to back years has everything you can ask for. From the players disliking each other, to interesting coaches on each end, to fanbases who love to bash each other's cities, this is the rivalry the NBA needed. Not a Warriors-Clippers rivalry that got forced. Not a Cavaliers-Raptors rivalry that was never there. Not even a Warriors-Thunder rivalry that's nowhere close to fair at the moment.
The Warriors and Cavaliers have the potential to be one of the best rivalries ever and the star power between the two teams is incredible. Sunday's match-up might not say a lot about what will happen in June if these two teams meet again, but it'll say plenty about which direction each team has taken since the Finals. Cleveland hasn't had a championship hangover. Golden State didn't take long to adjust to Durant. Both teams are playing great and are far ahead of the competition. But don't be fooled; neither team is close to their peak. The Cavaliers will be without J.R. Smith for several weeks, and the Warriors still aren’t 100 percent comfortable with their new roster.
Durant is the best scorer on the Warriors. He doesn't take as many shots as he should. He's a seven-footer with one of the best jumpers of all-time and moves like a guard. But at times, he shies away from taking over. I don't think he wants to step on anyone's toes and take shots away from guys like Curry and Thompson. Durant is so efficient and gets to the line just as well as anyone in the league. He should be shooting more, and the Warriors need to do a better job of getting him the ball. Curry also has to continue to take his shots and not get timid offensively. Draymond Green is there for a reason. He will handle getting everyone their shots.
For the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving has to do a better job of being a floor general. The big knock on him has always been his lack of playmaking. With James on the team, he doesn't have that responsibility as much. James is such a lethal scorer when he wants to be. Love does a good job of finding both Irving and James. Irving has to do the same for Love and James. When Love scored 34 in a quarter against the Trail Blazers earlier this year, Irving failed to feed the hot hand late in that quarter. Love could have easily had 40. The Cavaliers are also becoming what the Warriors were and at times still are: very dependent on the three-ball. With Smith out for a while, their attempts from beyond the arc will decrease.
Both teams have their flaws but are superior in this league. Barring a major injury, we'll see a rematch in the Finals again. Sunday is just another step in what will be a historic rivalry. Merry Christmas hoops heads.