The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers built one of the most intense rivalries in NBA history. Both teams have ruled their respective conferences in the last four years where the Warriors beat the Cavaliers three times in the NBA Finals and succeeded in establishing a dynasty. However, this year is expected to be different, especially after LeBron James left the Cavaliers in the recent free agency. Without James, most people believe that the Eastern Conference will have a new representative in the NBA Finals 2019.
On Wednesday night, the Warriors faced the Cavaliers for the first time in the 2018-19 NBA season. The Cavaliers established an impressive performance earlier in the game and finished the first half with a six-point lead. Unfortunately, the Warriors exploded in the second half and defeated the Cavaliers, 129-105, in their own house.
In a post-game interview, Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr was asked how he felt returning to the Quicken Loans Arena playing against the Cavaliers without Lebron James.
“It’s just different walking into the building,” Kerr said, via Yahoo Sports. “There’s still a ton of great memories, some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen in my life played between these two teams over the last four seasons. Obviously, they have a new team, so you move on. Part of me is a little nostalgic for that. I’ll miss that.”
Warriors-Cavs tucked away on League Pass tonight. Reflections on what the rivalry used to be from: Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, David Griffin, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green https://t.co/XK7fSJC38O
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 5, 2018
The departure of LeBron James didn’t only take away the Cavaliers’ status as a legitimate title contender, but they may even have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season. Without James, the Cavaliers struggled in the 2018-19 NBA season and are currently sitting in the 13th spot in the Eastern Conference with a 5-19 record. After realizing that they don’t have the capability to contend for the NBA championship title, the Cavaliers have moved some of their veterans to focus on the development of their young players.
While the Cavaliers lost the best basketball player on the planet, the Warriors have managed to make a huge upgrade on their roster with the acquisition of All-Star DeMarcus Cousins in the recent free agency. Though Cousins remains sidelined due to injury, he is expected to rejoin the Warriors when the real battle begins in the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Warriors may no longer need to worry about the Cavaliers this season, but LeBron James will still be trying to block their way on their road to the NBA Finals 2019. As of now, James and the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to build a good chemistry and expected to be one of the major threats to the Warriors in the postseason.