How big is the Cavs-Warriors X-mas matchup?
Christmas is coming, and any basketball fan with a TV knows of the Finals rematch it’s bringing with it. The Cavs head to Oakland to take on the Warriors, and for these five reasons, will partake in one of the most anticipated regular season games of the decade.
1. Sweet, sweet revenge
With a 2-1 lead in the 2015 NBA Finals, Cleveland could taste the end to its notorious title drought, but was instead left with the bitter taste of defeat after losing the next three games. Friday will be the Cavs first chance to avenge their championship heartbreak, and the Warriors will be more than ready for the Cavs’ vindictive mentality.
2. The Warrior’s are basketball’s hottest team
It is without question that the 26-1 Warriors are the hottest team in the league, and the Cavs will be their toughest opponent yet. With an average win differential of +17.6, the Warriors are undefeated at home, and it hasn’t even been close. In fact, the last time the Warriors lost at home, LeBron dropped 39/16/11 and the Cavs evened up the Finals at 1-1.
3. The Cavs are finally healthy
Cavs fans are especially anxious about ending the Warrior’s dominance because the team is finally looking healthy enough to play like its $110 million salary would indicate. Sunday’s win over the 76er’s was the first time LeBron, Love, and Kyrie played together since Kelly Olynyk’s infamous amputation attempt on Kevin Love in the first round of the playoffs. The Cavs would have had a much better shot at beating the Warriors with a full lineup, so Friday’s game should exhibit a confident, focused Cavalier team.
4. It will have the ambience of a real playoff game
The game isn’t just a rematch of last year’s Finals; it could very well be a preview of this year’s as well. Both the Warriors and the Cavs sit atop their respective conferences and have already proven their Finals-worthy rosters. It’s not to say either team has a particularly easy road to the Finals (cough couch, the Spurs, cough cough), but it’s hard to imagine a more likely Finals matchup. The Warriors have planned a “whiteout” for Friday’s game, so the Cavs can anticipate an early June-like atmosphere at Oracle Arena.
5. It’s frickin’ Christmas
With a rapidly globalizing fan base and a myriad of marketable talent, the NBA generated nearly $5 billion in revenues last season, with eleven franchises now valued at over $1 billion. Point being, the league knows how to generate a profit, and the nation’s favorite holiday plays a big part in that money pit. Historically, the NBA has saved some of its best matchups for Christmas, knowing it receives its best TV ratings aside from Playoff games. The league’s stars are always slated to play on Christmas day, as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant have all been scheduled to play on December 25 each of the last 6 seasons. The NBA is also sure to give teams special Christmas day jerseys, and have even introduced team-specific holiday socks as well. So with millions of people off work and in the ultimate holiday spirit, the NBA is sure to give the people what they want.