When Cavaliers’ players showed up to LeBron James‘ Halloween party, they had to step over a Stephen Curry dummy to get in the door. There were other digs at the Warriors throughout the home, including a 3-1 lead drum that rubbed some Warriors the wrong way.
What the Warriors needed to do about that was answer back on the court. Instead they blew a lead on Christmas Day and ended up falling to the Cavaliers on national television. The Warriors let the same narrative live.
Klay Thompson recently went on the A to Z Podcast with Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today, and he called the Halloween party moves “childish” but said maybe they need to use that as motivation.
“It’s obviously not respectful, so it’s got to be on the other side of the spectrum, so that’s fine with us. They can do that childish stuff. It doesn’t matter to us. All we’ve got to do is handle it on the court, you know?
“No, it didn’t (come up on the court in the Christmas Day game). But shoot, it might have (to). I mean, I still think we need to play with more of an edge next time we see them … I mean when we won the championship, though, we didn’t do some stuff like that. But that’s OK. People are built differently. We’re not going to – I’m not going to hold it against them. I’m just going to go out there, and we just want to beat them down next time we see them. That’s how it is. Hold that in the memory bank, and just remember that they do that stuff…It’s a good rivalry, and it’s good for the NBA. It makes it more fun, you know? It’s rare in pro sports you get rivalries like this, so we enjoy it, and we embrace it.”
This is the best rivalry in the NBA right now, and you can be sure the suits at ABC/ESPN are rooting for a rematch because the ratings will be fantastic. Plenty of fans want to see a rubber match, too. Rooting for it or not, there are moments it seems inevitable.
Thompson is right, the Warriors do need more of an edge. The Cavaliers are a very good team able to knock the Warriors off their game. Part of that is the ability to match up better than anyone else in terms of talent, but it’s also about taking the Warriors out of their playground flow. Cleveland takes away some of the easy baskets, and the Warriors don’t always deal well with that.
The game’s greats — Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, and on and on — used even perceived slights as motivation. This wasn’t perceived, this was LeBron throwing shade on Halloween. The question is how the Warriors ultimately respond.