Cleveland Cavs Versus Golden State Warriors: Is It Really A Great Rivalry?

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If you're a sports fan, this is the NBA Finals you hoped for, with the two most star-studded teams in the NBA—the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors—squaring off for the first "trilogy" in the league's history, matching them up for a rubber match to win a championship.

With Cleveland marching out a lineup of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love against Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, this has all the makings of a classic NBA Finals, which, hopefully, lives up to the hype and mirrors last season's matchup which went the full seven games.

But, we have to ask the question before the anticipated series tips: Is this really a rivalry? In the grand pantheon of sports bitterness, do the Cavs and Dubs have the bad blood to be considered in the same breath?

 

Before answering that loaded question, as the video above shows, we had to look back at some of the other well-known sports rivalries, ranking the top-8 of all-time. After seeing that, do the Cavs and Warriors have a legit argument to join that list? I mean, meeting for the third-straight time in the NBA Finals is great, but the league's so saturated now and lacks parity, so can we say for certainty it's a true rivalry?

Let's break it down by season to figure out the answer.

2014-15

LeBron James returns to Cleveland and leads his Cavs back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007 and only the second time in franchise history, finishing the regular season with a 53-29 record. Meanwhile, the Warriors win 67 games and lock up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, giving them an advantage over anyone they play in the postseason.

While the two teams played split their two regular season meetings, the NBA Finals matchup, on paper, looked like a bloodbath about to happen.

As Cleveland lacked any support for LeBron James—both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were injured—the Warriors overcame a shocking 2-1 series deficit to win the championship in six games.

2015-16

The Warriors set an NBA regular season record by winning 73 games, putting them atop the mountain of near greatness in league history. Oh, but there was just one problem—LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs.

While Cleveland sports teams have been cursed for decades, LeBron and his teammates became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, burying the previous curses by shocking the overconfident Warriors in seven games.

However, a questionable call against Draymond Green in Game 4—which led to a suspension for Game 5—made many fans wonder if Cleveland was handed a title after Golden State's emotional leader was sidelined.

2016-17

So, here we are. Once again, the teams split their two regular season matchups and the stakes are at an all-time high.

Golden State enters the Finals a perfect 12-0 in the postseason, while the Cavs come in at 12-1.

The Warriors added Kevin Durant into the mix this year, and his troubles facing LeBron James are well-documented, with James' teams holding a 14-4 advantage, which includes a championship in 2012.

Both teams have gripes with how the other won their title—whether because of injuries in 2015 or suspension in 2016.

Verdict

Now that we have a rough idea about things, let's answer the question at hand: is this really a rivalry?

Considering we haven't seen the best from both teams for a full series, where there's been no controversy, no injuries and no suspensions, sorry to say it, but, no, this is not a great rivalry. I know, we're about to get ripped to shreds.

Sure, it is a rivalry—with both teams chasing one another all season and into the playoffs—but, unfortunately, give us a seven game series this year and keep both teams together and play for an insane fourth time in a row next summer, and then we'll acknowledge it as being great.

Unfortunately, at this moment, we're just not ready to say that the Cleveland Cavs and Golden State Warriors truly hate one another like some of those old school rivalries do. But that could all change in just a couple of week's time—and we hope it does.

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