The Christmas Day clash between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers had everything you could want in a game of basketball, but there was one big take-away.
Cavaliers head coach, Tyronn Lue, hinted at the idea before the NBA Finals rematch, with his team’s 109-108 win the latest chapter in the league’s most exciting matchup, but the game, itself, all but solidified it.
While matching the storied rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics is a difficult task — the two teams have met an unprecedented 11 times in the Finals — the Warriors and Cavaliers have already shown the makings of two teams that are dominating their respective conferences, and have the potential to do so for years to come.
In the two previous seasons, as well as the first quarter of this season, the Warriors and Cavaliers have met 18 times; Golden State winning 10, while Cleveland has taken eight.
Over that stretch, the Warriors are outscoring the Cavaliers 1843 to 1758. But, it’s not just the relatively even record that makes the rivalry so intriguing.
The Warriors have lost 49 games since the start of the 2014-15 regular season, and the Cavaliers have accounted for eight of them; an astounding 16.3 percent.
Conversely, the Cavaliers have lost 71 games over that stretch, with the Warriors accounting for 10 of those losses.
Both teams are evenly matched, and met in the last two NBA Finals series’. The Warriors took the 2015 title — winning 4-2 — while the Cavaliers famously came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 Championship; a series that will go down as one of the greatest in NBA history.
In the current NBA climate, the Cavaliers and Warriors are the league’s most exciting rivalry, and it’s not even close. If both teams continue to perform as expected, that rivalry will define this decade, and could transform into one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the league; potentially joining the Lakers and Celtics in NBA rivalry lore.