Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Buckle up, it's Cavaliers vs. Warriors

The Warriors’ Stephen Curry, far left, and the Cavaliers’ LeBron James squared off on Christmas Day, when Golden State squandered a 14-point lead to lose 109-108 in Cleveland.

Getty Images

The Warriors’ Stephen Curry, far left, and the Cavaliers’ LeBron James squared off on Christmas Day, when Golden State squandered a 14-point lead to lose 109-108 in Cleveland.

OAKLAND, Calif. — The weeks between Christmas and the All-Star break in mid February feel like some of the longest of the season. The excitement of the start of a new year has faded, the postseason is still too far away and the drudgery of playing roughly a game every other day for the next few months begins to take its toll.

It's tough for any team to get through the dog days of January. For the Cavaliers and Warriors, however, there's an additional problem: sheer boredom. With seven All-Stars between them, and both squads nearly universally considered to be a level apart from the 28 other teams, the Cavs and Warriors know they don't have to put out maximum effort on a nightly basis to churn out wins in the regular season.

That won't be the case tonight at Oracle Arena, however, when the league's best square off for the second time in three weeks — and final time this regular season — before likely facing off in the NBA Finals for an unprecedented third straight season. "We'd be lying if we didn't say that it wasn't a great, competitive game that we're looking forward to," Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said. "Who doesn't want to see that?"

While it's true that most would like to see these heavyweights square off as many times as possible, it's hard to argue the two teams don't feel the same way. After spending days leading up to the Christmas showdown in Cleveland downplaying the importance of it, both teams played as if it were the eighth game of the prior season's Finals, ferociously battling at a level normally not seen in December.

Despite both teams sitting comfortably atop their conferences — Cleveland is three games ahead of Toronto in the loss column in the East; Golden State is just as far ahead of San Antonio in the West — efforts like that have been few and far between this season.

There's plenty of bad blood between the teams after two epic Finals, and that was before the Warriors added Kevin Durant to a matchup that already featured LeBron James and Stephen Curry. "They're even more dangerous," the Cavs' James said. "They're even more dangerous than they were last year, and that's pretty hard to say because they were a damn great team last year, and they're even better this year."

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Norman Powell added 21 and the host Raptors used a dominant third quarter to beat the Knicks 116-101. … Kent Bazemore scored 24, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the host Hawks beat the Bucks 111-98, their eighth win in nine games. … James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple double of the season as the Rockets beat the host Nets 137-112.

Buckle up, it's Cavaliers vs. Warriors 01/15/17 [Last modified: Sunday, January 15, 2017 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)