Preview: Warriors at Cavaliers
It doesn’t have quite the same juice as it used to when LeBron James was around, but it’s still special when the participants in the last four NBA Finals get together in the regular season. The Cleveland Cavaliers will try to get some revenge when they host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
The Warriors beat the Cavaliers in three of the last four NBA Finals, including the last two, but Cleveland is no longer among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference since the departure of James. The Cavaliers are fighting to stay out of the basement in the East and lifted themselves to 5-18 with a 99-97 triumph over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. Golden State is not on top of the West at the moment but remains a Finals favorite and finally looked like the team that won those titles while it rolled the Atlanta Hawks 128-111 on Monday. “We have a great offense where we emphasize ball movement, body movement, making the right play and trying to find a great shot every time down,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant told reporters after the victory. “Tonight, we saw something working in our movement game.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Bay Area (Golden State), FS Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (16-9): Superstar guard Stephen Curry was playing his second game back after missing 11 with a groin injury on Monday and managed to shake off the last of the rust while exploding for 18 points in the first quarter en route to 30 on 10-of-17 shooting. “I think with Steph, our offense is so free-flowing,” Durant told reporters. “And if it’s Steph getting 18 points in the first quarter or Klay (Thompson) or myself, it starts off with passing the basketball. So, I think, obviously, Steph scored the points, but we all had a hand in setting screens, throwing the ball to him, getting out of the way so he could be aggressive. He’s just all otherworldly when he makes those types of shots and definitely got us going tonight.” Durant finished with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting and eight assists in the win.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (5-18): Cleveland is still working on its roster in the post-James era and brought in guard Alec Burks from the Utah Jazz last week in the deal that sent Kyle Korver out of town. Burks finished with 13 points on Monday and punctuated the effort with a go-ahead dunk in the final seconds. “He attacks the basket,” Cavaliers coach Larry Drew told reporters of Burks. “Because he’s so athletic, he can maneuver to the basket and get a shot off. The one thing I was trying to do, I wanted to be aggressive on the last play of the game. If the same shot hadn’t gone in, just wanted to take them to overtime. We were going to get the last shot. He just made a really good move with the basketball.”
1. Cavaliers C Tristan Thompson recorded a double-double in seven of the last eight games.
2. Warriors PF Draymond Green (toe) is expected to miss his 10th straight game.
3. Golden State took both regular season meetings in 2017-18 and swept the NBA Finals.