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The defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors made their only trip to Cleveland on Wednesday night, having some early issues but walking away with a win over the Cavaliers 129-105.
While it was a new-look Cavaliers without LeBron James, most of the pre- and even postgame chatter had to do about the past, and the four-year run the teams had playing in the NBA Finals each season, with the Warriors winning three of four meetings, with the Cavs lone title coming in the 2016 season.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who at one point in his career played for the Cavs, was asked recently about which Cavs team that fought his Warriors squad was the best, and his answer might be surprising.
“The team that I think may have been their best team was the team we beat in five in 2017,” Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “I thought that team was better than the one in 2016 that beat us. Difference was, we had Kevin.”
“But Kyrie had fully blossomed into Kyrie by ’16, LeBron [James] was at the height of his powers, Love was healthy and rolling, JR [Smith] did his job defensively. They shot so many 3s. Didn’t they make 25 threes in Game 4? That series was some of the highest level of basketball ever player in the spot. It was higher level than ’16.”
That 2017 Finals was a Warriors runaway, as they won the first two games in Oakland, and then while it was a fight, they were able to win game three.
Cleveland did blow out the Warriors in game four, but then the Warriors won the title with a win back at home in game five.
Kerr says that the 2016 teams were good, but overall he felt that the 2017 Warriors and Cavs were at their best.
“[Because] ’16 was a little bit of a slog at times, for both teams,” Kerr said. “We didn’t have Kevin. We didn’t have Draymond for Game 5. It was super physical. All of our off-ball stuff got clogged up. They did a good job of mauling us physically and freeing up LeBron and Kyrie. Last couple games, we didn’t have that usual flow.”
It was a four-year matchup of the ages, and there’s no doubt that now that it’s all over, it’s still fun to go back and relive the memories of four years of back and forth between the Cavs and Warriors.