NBA Finals: Top 10 Moments of the Warriors-Cavs Rivalry
The idea of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers forming the NBA's next biggest rivalry seemed unlikely at this time 4 years ago. Neither of these teams has historically been model franchises. Before their first Finals meeting in 2015, the Warriors hadn’t won a championship since 1975, and the Cavaliers had never won one. And now, fast forward 4 years, they have become this generations' Lakers and Celtics.
The teams have now met in the NBA Finals in each of the last four seasons, marking the first time that any of the four major American professional leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB) have had the same championship matchup four times in a row. This rivalry has provided us with a plethora of great moments and bad blood between the two teams.
The team's bad blood has often continued on and off the court during this tenure and has always been accompanied by exciting and fantastic basketball. This rivalry surely deserves to be in the pantheon of great rivalries in the history of the NBA.
Let us look at the top 10 moments from this epic rivalry:
Note: For this list, we have considered the best moments and not the best performances in this rivalry.
10. Kyrie saves Christmas with a game winner
The Warriors after being humiliated by the Cavaliers in 2016 NBA Finals, added one of the best scorers the game has ever seen in Kevin Durant. The Christmas Day matchup between these teams was the first time they were playing against each other since Game 7 of the Finals last year.
It was one of the most anticipated matches of the season. It didn’t disappoint as ended up being one of the best matches of the season and the only close match of the regular season between these two rivals.
The Cavaliers trailed 94-80 early in the fourth quarter. But Kyrie Irving, who had a slow start to the game, scored 14 fourth-quarter points. Six of the 14 points came in the final five minutes of play, which also included the game-winner that gave the Cavaliers a 1-point lead.
Kyrie drove into the body of Klay Thompson and hit a fade-away jump shot to seal the deal for the Cavaliers. With 3.4 seconds left in the game, Golden State had one last chance but Kevin Durant lost his balance coming off a screen and couldn’t get off a shot as time expired.
Irving finished with an impressive stat line of 25 points, 10 assists, 7 steals and 6 rebounds and once again showed his clutch gene to the world as the Cavaliers went onto defeat the Warriors 109-108. Although the Warriors would end up winning the championship that year against this same Cavaliers team, the Irving winner marked another amazing moment in the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry.