Unsurprisingly, according to Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, he and the team have been waiting for Cavs-Warriors.
“This is what everyone wants to see and this is what we all want to be a part of,” Irving said after Monday’s practice. “I’ve been waiting. We had the regular season, we had the playoffs, been tested — both teams — and now we just meet at the top of the mountain. It’s a duel for one successor, one failure. And I can live with those odds.”
Irving added that there’s a natural animosity between the Cavs and Warriors, with both sporting sides owning on a win on the other. In 2015, the Warriors beat the Cavs in six games. Last year, Cleveland came back from 3-1 to win the Finals and ruined Golden State’s 73 win season.
“There’s definitely a sense of intensity you can feel, it’s the air,” he said. “Just by the way things went — it’s natural. We all accept it — I especially accept it and I can’t wait for the challenge.”
Irving will play a major part in this year’s Finals, as he has the past two Finals. In 2015, he was sensational in Game 1 — highlighted by a block of Stephen Curry — before inuring his knee and missing the rest of the series. Cleveland couldn’t match Golden State’s scoring the rest of the way.
Last year, Irving outplayed Curry in the last three games of the Finals and hit the series winner over Curry in Game 7. Irving outplaying Curry, the two-time MVP times who averaging a team-high 28.6 points per game in the playoffs, at least four times in a seven-game series would go a long way towards Cleveland repeating.
“From an individual standpoint, with me guarding him, it’s going to be a touch challenge. Chasing him around all those dang screens — Steph does a great job of just sacrificing himself as well as getting guys open shots, but also knocking down some tough shots,” Irving said. “You’ve got to challenge him on both ends of the floor. Just make it tough for him as much as possible.”