Everyone loves a rematch.
The defending champion Golden State Warriors will face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday in the NBA Finals for the second straight year. But this year, the storyline is different.
Stephen Curry, the Warriors point guard and newly minted MVP, is coming off of a knee injury that took him out of the playoffs for two weeks. After returning, and when Golden State was struggling early in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, people close to Curry told Yahoo Sports he was “playing at 70 percent, at best.”
But you wouldn’t know it seeing Curry’s performance in Game 7 against the Thunder, scoring 36 points and draining three-pointers late to seal the series. Steve Kerr, the Warriors head coach, even said: “He looked right again.”
Curry’s counterpoint on the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving, has his own injury redemption. In Game 1 last year, Irving left the game with a fractured left kneecap and watched the rest of the Finals from the bench. He only played 43 minutes. The Warriors would win the championship in six games.
Irving is healthy again, as is power forward Kevin Love. With both back, it changes the whole dynamic for the Cavs. As Tyronn Lue, the team’s head coach, put it to ESPN, “I just think that we have a different team than we had last year. Organization-wise, it’s the same two teams, but playing-wise and players-wise, we’re a different team.”