Amico: Cavs, Warriors keeping their cool

Sam Amico

AmicoHoops

Neither the Cavaliers nor Warriors are willing to imply their Finals rematch on Christmas Day is the season's biggest game.

"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," Cavs star LeBron James said.

"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."

Or how about this from Warriors forward Draymond Green: "We haven't talked about it at all. We'll either finish that game 28-1 or 27-2. That's about it. ... Just another game."

The Warriors beat the Cavs in last season's Finals, 4 games to 2. A lot of folks have wondered if the outcome would've been different had the Cavs had Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (or at least one of them). Both missed all six games with major injuries.

A couple NBA scouts even guaranteed the Cavs would've won.

"That series was a mismatch in favor of the Cavs," one opposing scout told Amico Hoops. "But without Love or Irving, LeBron just didn't have enough experience or help around him. It was basically one-on-five."

Of course, we don't know that for sure. And that sort of thinking takes away from what the Warriors actually accomplished -- by staying healthy and playing their best when it mattered most.

Plus, they deserve tons of credit for not resting on their title or reputation. They've been even better this season, starting 27-1 and winning each of their 13 homes games.

As James said, the Warriors are clearly better than everyone.

Meanwhile, the Cavs (19-7) just want to be in the conversation as the league's best team. They'll certainly be there if they can beat the Warriors on their own home floor. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. EST.

"We get to see where we stack up against the best team," Love said. "They have the best record, they've played the best and they're very hungry even after having won last year in the Finals. So, it's going to be a chance for us to compete, see where we're at and hopefully go out there and have a great showing."

So win or lose, neither team will have to enter panic mode. Far from it. After all, the teams meet again in Cleveland (Jan. 18), and could potentially have another showdown on the league's biggest stage.

But we're not even at the midpoint of the season, and while Christmas games are always hyped, they mean little in the big scheme of things. Not when the season doesn't end until mid-to-late June.

"It's an exciting game; I know everybody is looking forward to it," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "The significance of the game is probably more in terms of the excitement that it's generating than the actual meaning of it. It's another game in an 82-game season."

The Cavs have won six straight. The Warriors have won 27 of 28. The Warriors own the title. The Cavs are gunning for it.

But nothing that happens on Christmas Day will determine who's holding the trophy at season's end. And both teams are smart enough to realize that.

"The memories (of the Finals loss) will come back as soon as we walk into the building," James said. "But also understand that it's one of 82, and I'm not going to put everything into this game."

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