For the first time since the 2014 regular season, the Golden State Warriors’ annual visit to Cleveland will not be the expected NBA Finals preview. That’s what happens when LeBron James leaves town, as the four-year rivalry between the Cavs and Warriors has come to an end.
Golden State leads their rivalry 3-1 (ironically enough) in championships, with the lone blemish on that record being the incredible comeback from 3-1 down by Cleveland in 2016. That series, ultimately, set in motion everything that led to the ultimate demise of the Cavs. Kevin Durant decided to join the Warriors and has noted he probably wouldn’t have had they won. LeBron James delivered on his promise to bring Cleveland a championship, freeing himself up to eventually leave without the feeling of betrayal from 2010, and somewhere in there, Kyrie Irving grew frustrated enough to want out.
So now the Warriors head to Cleveland on Wednesday to take on the Cavaliers in a game that has no hype and no real stakes beyond the impact of a win or loss has on the two teams’ regular season record. That’s a bit weird, and in the build up to the game The Athletic’s Anthony Slater spoke with a number of the Warriors’ stars about the rivalry, its end, and their feelings about going to Cleveland now.