When you think of #NBA rivalries, there are many that come to mind. Lakers and Celtics, Bulls and Knicks, Bulls and the Bad Boy Pistons, Clippers and Warriors. What makes a true NBA rivalry are close games, mid-game scuffles, playoff battles, star players facing one another, and moments in those games that will live on forever in NBA history. NBA fans have been looking for a new rivalry to take on its own flare, but also channel a little old-school, with scuffles and smack talk between the two teams. Now enter Warriors and Cavaliers. The Warriors and Cavs have had two finals battles, and in the regular season have had many games with scuffles.
But is it too early in this match-up to call it a rivalry?
The games aren't rivalry-worthy
As I have stated before, a rivalry game needs to have great games. Now, if you really take a look at the games between the Cavs and Warriors, the games have been one-sided for the majority of the match-ups. In the six regular season match-ups since the 2014-15 season the average margin of victory in those games has been 17.5 PPG.
You would think in their 13 finals games would be nail-bitingly close. Well, you're wrong, but at least it's better than the regular season. The average margin of victory in those finals games is 13.8 PPG. That's not really something to watch, either. To be honest, only game 2 of the Finals in 2015 and game 7 in the 2016 Finals have been wire-to-wire good games. To be fair, the overall win-loss record has been somewhat close, with the Warriors leading 11-8. But if they want this to be a real rivalry, they are going to need to have some closer games in my opinion.
Rivalries like the Celtics and Lakers, always had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see who would come out on top. For the Cavs and Warriors, all I have to do is watch until halftime and I will know who is going to win.
Where's the hate?
When LeBron James was asked if this was a rivalry after a blowout loss to the Warriors on Monday night, He answered "We don't look at it as a rivalry," also adding, "we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game" (Joe Vardon, Cleveland.com). Draymond Green thought otherwise, saying he has "no love for Cleveland" (TNT).
From what I remember from old NBA rivalries, both teams openly said how they despise the other team, wanting to take it to them every chance they got. You don't get that vibe from Cavs/Warriors. You get a match-up between teams that have respect but don't embrace the hate they know they have for each other deep down (if your name isn't Draymond Green). Now, I do understand that they have their mid-game scuffles, if you want to call it that, because the refs step in way too quickly. To be honest it looks like most players on both teams don't even take on the hate.
If the player themselves don't embrace the hate, who are we as people to throw the rivalry tag at them if both teams don't buy in?
Small sample size for a rivalry
Let's look at it from a scheduling sense. The Cavs and Warriors are in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, so they only play twice a season. With the Cavs and Warriors only playing twice a year, their only chance to play after those two times is if they both make the NBA finals. That's almost a guarantee, with the rosters they both have. Before 2016 they never played against each other in the postseason. Since 2016, they've played 17 times, which is a lot in two years, but not enough to classify it a rivalry. This season is only half over, and they wont play again this season. However, both teams are on track to meet once more in the NBA Finals.