The day of celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. is becoming a familiar affair for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The NBA has chosen the designated holiday for the second rematch of the season for the two finalists from last June. The last time these two teams met was in Golden State on Christmas day where Kevin Durant’s defense (or fouls per the NBA), helped lead the Warriors to a 99-92 victory. Stephen Curry did not play due to an ankle injury and Isaiah Thomas was still recovering from his hip injury.
A new year and a new look at the rivalry will continue tonight on TNT, 8 PM EST. With both teams geared up with their full healthy roster, besides Derrick Rose for Cleveland, the expectation for a playoff or Finals atmosphere will bring excitement to the primetime game. What would a loss do to a team like Cleveland right now?
The Cavaliers have lost three straight games and currently 3-7 in their last 10 games. Also included in the last three games is a common trend of allowing 125 points per game. The January blues continues as we remembered January of 2017. The famous “needing more playmakers” comment from LeBron James sent a frenzy throughout the media. The Cavaliers struggled to beat the Warriors in the 2017 MLK showdown in a 126-91 route.
Coming off a Friday loss in Indiana where they led by 22-points there has to be some concern for the Cavaliers. Another route on MLK Monday could mentally strain the Cavs however, even last year the Cavaliers finished the season 10-14 in March and April. They would then go 12-1 prior to the Finals where they met the Warriors and went down 3-0 quickly.
With most of Cleveland’s veterans at least 30 or older they could be more reluctant to go full speed in the middle of January. The average age of the James, Derrick Rose Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, and J.R. Smith amounts to 32 years old. While the NBA schedule was rebuilt to accommodate more rest, father time still can have its effects on the 82-game season.
On the Golden State front, it’s all the upper hand and confidence that they are the team to beat in the NBA. The defending champs are currently 8-2 in their last 10 games. They have defeated the Rockets without James Harden in that mix. The Warriors are currently on game three tonight of a five-game road trip. They will end at Houston on January 20th where they can see both Chris Paul and Harden this time. A loss to the Cavaliers tonight wouldn’t necessarily put a dent in the Warriors but to route, a struggling Cleveland team yet again could solidify that James and company have a lot of ground to make up.