NBA Finals Preview: Historical Ramifications

It's official. For the fourth year in a row, Cleveland and Golden State will lock horns for the NBA title. It actually pretty historic. This will be the first time in any of the four major sports leagues that the same two franchises have faced each other in four consecutive championship games/series. The famed Yankees/Dodgers rivalry never accomplished that (four time in five seasons between 1952 and 1956). No NFL organizations have done that, Super Bowl era or before. Not even during the Original Six days of the NHL did this occur.

So, naturally, there's some history that each side wants to take into account if they lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

To Get That Payback ... Twice

The Cavaliers are looking for redemption ... and glory. The returning influences from the 2016 championship team (LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Tristan Thompson) may never have to buy a drink in Cleveland for the rest of their days. Winning another title would assuredly make that a guarantee. In all honesty, though, this may be the organization's "move."

In two of the last four trips to the Finals, this franchise has made wholesale midseason changes. Two years ago, the biggest shift to the roster came on the bench. David Blatt guided the defending conference champs to a 30-11 record and first place in the conference standings. However, all was not right in the locker room, leaving the head coach to get pushed aside. Despite the controversial decision, the Cavs maintained their superiority and pulled off the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.

This season, the big shakeup actually involved the roster. After an offseason that included the trade of Kyrie Irving to a conference rival, the new additions to the lineup just weren't cutting it. It appeared that Jae Crowder didn't fit in. Neither did Derrick Rose. Dwyane Wade wasn't quite healthy. Isaiah Thomas was never really healthy at all. So, amidst the struggles with mediocrity, they completely remade their bench and traded seven players away. There have been stretches of befuddling play, but the new additions (especially George Hill) have contributed enough to help the remaining core players get to another Finals appearance.

And if the Cavs can take this momentum all the way, they would keep people debating which team got "the best of it" for all-time. To even this Ultimate Championship Series (as I like to call it) at 2-2 gives the Cavs as many bragging rights as Golden State could claim.

To Be Among the Most Legendary

The Warriors are looking to enhance their reputation and put their names on another historic list. The list of teams making it to four consecutive NBA Finals series is short.


The list of franchises that have won three titles in a four-year span is almost as short.


As you can see, the combination of these instances has only happened twice since the beginning of the Basketball Association of America (the NBA's predecessor). Winning the 2018 title would put these Warriors in the same sentence as the dynasty Celtics of the early NBA and the "Showtime" Lakers. Pretty good company to keep, in my opinion.

On a player level, this would provide the majority of the team's core with their third ring. Assuming it happens, that equals some of the greats to play the game, including the best player of the generation. For Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala to match LeBron James total means a few things.

* This team is as cohesive a unit as we've seen, at least in modern times.
* The coaching is on par with some of the greats on the sideline.
* They've been the main foil to said greatest player of the generation.

And when it comes to the rivalry, they'll clearly boast the bragging rights for the rest of time. Even with the roster tweaks that came midway through, having a 3-1 edge in this showdown gives a decisive advantage to "better team" over "best player.". All of the Warriors know that LeBron is a once-a-generation player. To say that they've bested him three out of four gives these players all the more reason to boast for the rest of time.

So, will it be a chance to even the score? Or will it be the chance to sow up a place in history? NBA fans will see it all sort out starting on Thursday night.

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