The Cavaliers will get the Golden State Warriors in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. Except this time, the Cavs are fully healthy.
The Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 in Game 7 on Monday to erase a 3-1 series deficit and return to the Finals. They’ll face a well-rested Cavs team that took two days off before returning to practice on Monday. They will fly to California on Tuesday and open Game 1 of the Finals at Oracle Arena on Thursday.
The series will shift to Cleveland for Game 3 on June 8.
The Warriors beat the Cavs in six games last year when LeBron James had to essentially go it alone. Kevin Love missed the series following shoulder surgery and Kyrie Irving fractured his knee in Game 1.
Now all three stars are healthy and playing their best basketball of the season. That will have to continue in order for the Cavs to end the city’s 52-year championship drought. The Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games during the regular season, although they were pushed hard by the Thunder in the Western Conference finals.
The Cavs spent Monday caught in limbo. They went through practice not knowing their opponent or even how much longer they’d be home. The Cavs would’ve enjoyed home-court advantage if the Thunder won the West. Instead, the Cavs will fly west again just as they did last year.
Asked after practice Monday which team he preferred to play, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue simply responded “We just want the winner.”
Cavs fans – and even some team personnel – spent the past year believing they would’ve won the Finals last year if they were healthy. Now they won’t have to wonder any longer.
“It’s big on who you are playing as far as personnel, things you have to be locked in on, things you have to take away, things we can’t give up,” Lue said. “It does play a part, but it’s really more so about us. If we’re on the right page and doing things the right way, we’re going to be fine.”