We owe them [Houston Rockets] some revenge: Klay Thompson
For a third straight year, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers headline the NBA's Christmas Day schedule but for the reigning champions, this might be just another game. Of course, there is the additional hype around the game, that is created by the media.
"So we're in a position where we just know that we're going to get everybody's best shot, and we're having fun defending the title." - David West on the Warriors' Global Media Conference Call that took place on Thursday.
Injuries or not, the Warriors are going to get each team's best shot each night but going by how the team is currently playing, they seem to have learned how to respond to the adversity of having multiple players injured, including 2-time league MVP Stephen Curry.
"He's one of the best players in the world, so not to have him out there is unfortunate. But while he's not here, we do not make excuses for his absence. We still try to do what we do without him, and that's just play hard, play together, and win as many games as possible." - Klay Thompson on how hard it is to play without Curry.
At the time of writing, Golden State is riding an 11-game win streak, the last seven coming in Curry's absence. It's quite obvious that the team is riding their other MVP Kevin Durant through this streak - 32.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 3.0 blocks - but an underrated reason for the team's current success despite the injuries is their depth.
"We have three guys from the starting lineup out: Steph [Curry], Draymond [Green] and myself. And then Shaun [Livingston] has been injured, Andre [Iguodala] missed last game. But we have a good streak going on. It just tells you how deep we are and the great players we have." - Warriors starting center Zaza Pachulia comments on the team's current form.
So leading up to their battle on Christmas both days, both the Warriors and the Cavaliers are carrying a lot of momentum with them. As mentioned earlier, the Warriors are on an 11-game win streak (which could become 12 before they face the visiting Cleveland franchise) but the Cavaliers aren't far behind either. After being down 5-7, the defending East Champions have won 19 of their next 21 games to improve to 24-9.
But this game has no long-term significance. Pachulia further added, "This game doesn't kind of decide anything, but at the same time, of course, we would love to win."
Last year, the Warriors were defeated in a hard-fought close encounter on Christmas Day in Cleveland, courtesy of a game-winning jumper by Kyrie Irving. Yet, the team from Oakland cruised to the 2017 Finals undefeated and then took care of the Cavaliers in five games.
Multiple times through the call, everybody was asked about the James Harden-Chris Paul duo and the surging Houston Rockets, and what's their view on facing this team in the Playoffs. Steve Kerr had quite the calm reply, focusing on his team rather than the Rockets.
"Obviously, Houston has had an amazing start in the West, and they've got a great team...... But so much can happen over the course of a year with injuries and how things go, so we're not too worried about The Finals or the playoffs even. We're just trying to be the best we can be right now and keep getting better." - Steve Kerr.
On the other hand, the team's shooting guard, Klay Thompson, who is the only Warriors' starter to have played in all games so far, had another approach and opinion about it.
"It's always a fun matchup when me and Steph get to go against them [Houston Rockets] because we can measure ourselves as players against the best. They beat us the first time [on opening night], and we're looking forward to that game in a few weeks because we owe them some revenge."
Classic Klay, right?