There’s been an awful lot of hand-wringing about just how underwhelming the NBA Playoffs have been so far, and much of it is perfectly justified. With a few exceptions, it’s mostly been an excuse to showcase the historic dominance from the Cavs and Warriors, but let’s also not act like this isn’t precisely what many of us have been pining for all along.
When Game 1 tips off on Thursday night, it’ll mark the first time in league history that two teams have met in the Finals in three consecutive seasons. Given the circumstances, it’s hard not to put this looming trilogy right up there with some of the greatest rivalries of all-time. And let’s not forget that these two teams have real antipathy for one another.
For the past two years, we’ve seen all sorts of passive-aggressive shots fired across their respective bows: there was Steph Curry saying he hoped the Cavs’ locker-room still smelled like champagne, LeBron’s ‘RIP 3-1 Lead’ Halloween decor, the Warriors’ cheeky Super-Villain-themed party, Draymond Green admitting that he wants to annihilate the Cavs, and so much more. There’s also the added wrinkle that each of the past two championship series have been, in significant ways, altered by injuries and/or suspensions.
The Cavs were without both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in their first meeting, Curry was still recovering from a knee injury last year, and Draymond had to sit out a critical Game 5 after surreptitiously smacking LeBron in the cojones.