The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors still need to win four more games apiece to ensure a third-straight NBA Finals rematch. However, that accomplishment increasingly feels like a formality. With both teams undefeated through two rounds and awaiting their conference finals opponents, it feels safe to start anticipating another battle between LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and the many stars on both sides.
Thankfully, the Cavs and Warriors seem to agree. They’re already starting the off-court war of words as they rest up for the start of the next round.
Draymond Green struck the first blow in that battle on Monday before the Warriors’ Game 4 elimination of the Utah Jazz. “I thought teams would compete a little harder,” Green said of Cleveland’s opponents. “I like to watch good basketball. When you watch Cleveland play, you’re only watching one side of the good basketball. That’s kind of weak.”
It took a few days for a member of the Cavs to respond to Green, but veteran forward Richard Jefferson, his teammate with the Warriors in 2012-13, did just that on Thursday. Here’s what he said on the latest episode of his Road Trippin’ podcast:
Richard Jefferson calls out Draymond Green for criticism about Cavs opponents. Says Warriors haven't played vs. tough competition, either. pic.twitter.com/7GOVtnLMTr
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) May 11, 2017
For those not keeping track, that’s now two times in as many days that Draymond Green has been identified as a pot calling the kettle black. This example doesn’t seem quite as egregious as his belief that Boston Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk is dirty, which ticked off Isaiah Thomas and confused anyone familiar with Green’s kicking habit. The Warriors’ at least saw a fight from the Utah Jazz in the conference semifinals, whereas the Toronto Raptors essentially looked overmatched against LeBron James and the Cavs from the opening tip of Game 1.
Then again, Jefferson does have a point. The Warriors haven’t faced terrific competition in the playoffs, and it’s not clear that either the San Antonio Spurs or Houston Rockets will pose much of a threat before the NBA Finals. Of course, the same is truer of the Cavaliers and their competition in the East. It’s worth remembering that the top-seeded Boston Celtics would have finished in fourth place in the West with their 53-49 record.
Whatever the case, it’s not worth digging through this logic for too long. The story here is that the Warriors and Cavs appear ready to renew their rivalry even before each team knows its conference finals opponent. The collision course is set, and we couldn’t be more excited to see the impact.
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