The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will meet for the first time since last season’s NBA Finals on Friday, and LeBron James hasn’t forgotten the feeling of his team’s championship loss.
“The memories will come back as soon as we walk into the building,” James said, according to ESPN.
But despite the still-stinging defeat and the hype surrounding the rematch, James and his teammates are approaching the game with a steady mindset.
“Understand that it’s one of 82, and I’m not going to put everything into this game,” James said. “It’s a great opportunity for our fans to have five games on Christmas and for our game to continue to get so much exposure, but for us as a team, Friday will not be the end of our season, like it was in June. We play Saturday and then we play Monday and Tuesday. We want to play well, going against a great caliber team, the best team in our league right now, but it’s not like the season ends if we lose or if we win, or whatever the case may be.”
Guard Iman Shumpert said he will bring a similar approach to the game, but couldn’t deny the rematch mentality would be present.
“I can't speak for everybody else. It plays a part,” Shumpert said. “But we’re going to come out and approach the game like we approach all games. But, I’m salty. I am.”
The Warriors hold the NBA’s best record at 27–1, but the Cavaliers aren’t far behind at 19–7, best in the Eastern Conference and third-best overall.
Golden State will host Cleveland at Oracle Arena at 5 p.m. ET on Christmas Day.