Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are two games away from exacting revenge on the Cleveland Cavaliers for their NBA Finals comeback in 2016. One would assume this is how everyone in the Bay Area scripted the season: The Warriors reach the NBA Finals, face the Cavaliers and beat them.
Those feelings no doubt exist, but Curry doesn’t share them. He told NBA.com’s David Aldridge he would have been fine facing another team in the NBA Finals because, well, they’re the freaking NBA Finals:
Aldridge: Would you have been disappointed if it wasn’t Cleveland?
SC: Not if we’re in The Finals, not at all. (Laughs) But obviously that’s the situation. We know how tough a task it is to win against them. It’s going to take everything we’ve got, and it obviously is a great storyline for all that’s happened the last 24 months.
So, like, duh.
Yes, the Cavs-Warriors, Part III has been touted to no end. And sure, there has to be a part of Curry, along with every member of Golden State, that revels in the opportunity to deconstruct Cleveland after what happened last year.
But players aren’t like fans. And, hell, Warriors fans aren’t like the rest of NBA fans.
Do you really think they’d care who they face in the Finals, so long as they were in the Finals? Ditto for the Cavaliers and their fans. They might have even preferred to face another team—a more beatable squad.
Casual fans with no real rooting interest wanted this series. Or maybe they just felt the inevitability of it and steered into the skid. Whatever the sentiment, specific matchups are of course a concern to players. Ask Draymond Green this question, and maybe he gives you a different answer.
But the team the Warriors face, the team they presumably beat, will always be secondary to reaching, and then winning, the NBA Finals, opponent be damned.