INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue agrees with his old Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant‘s take on a potential third straight NBA Finals next month featuring the Cavs and Golden State Warriors: There is no way it should be seen as a bad thing for basketball.
“Is it a problem? I don’t think so,” Lue said Wednesday, with Cleveland holding its first practice since sweeping Toronto on Sunday to advance to the conference finals for the third straight year. “I think a lot of people wanted to see Boston and the Lakers back in the day. I think nowadays, a lot of people want to see Golden State-Cavs. And it’s not a problem. Right now, it’s two of the teams playing some of the best basketball right now.
“So two of the teams that have been in back-to-back Finals — so, why not? Why not want to see it again?” Lue said. “I don’t see why it would be a problem. I think last year had some of the best ratings, I think, in NBA history. I think now with them adding [Kevin] Durant and the way they’re playing, the way we’re playing, it can be even higher.”
Both Cleveland and Golden State are 8-0 in the playoffs thus far, with the Warriors winning by an average of 16.5 points per game and the Cavs’ average margin of victory a comfortable 9.6 points per game.
Bryant, in an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, questioned those who say the Cavs’ and Warriors’ dominance is hurting the league. “Why is that bad for basketball? That makes no sense,” Bryant told ESPN. “Just because it’s preordained that’s a bad thing?”
Should Warriors-Cavs III come to fruition, it will be the first time in league history the same two teams met in the Finals for three consecutive years.
Even if the public is preparing for that collision course between LeBron James and Stephen Curry yet again, with new faces such as Durant and Kyle Korver mixed in, the Cavs say they are keeping their focus on the outcome of the Boston Celtics–Washington Wizards semifinal series to determine their next opponent.
“I think we’re not even looking at the Warriors,” Tristan Thompson said. “We’re looking at Boston-Washington. Before that it was Toronto. The most important team we got to take care of and play against is the team in front of us. We can’t look past no other team. Everyone is capable of beating anyone on any night, especially right now. These are all good teams. We’ve lost to Boston and Washington this year, so these teams are not a cakewalk. Everybody is respected, everybody knows every team is talented. So we’re just looking at it one step at a time. Not looking past nobody.”
While Lue told ESPN last week that a Cavs-Warriors rubber match “probably would be one of the biggest Finals ever,” he too says he isn’t singling Golden State out as he looks ahead to the rest of the Cavs’ postseason run.
“I’m always watching,” Lue said. “I’m watching everybody. San Antonio, Houston, Golden State, Washington, Boston, I’m watching everything. And my mind is always going, it’s always running and you’re always trying to get an advantage somehow. But yeah, I’m watching everyone.”
Thompson said the somewhat premature Cavs-Warriors line of questioning was an example of the media just “looking for something to write about” but defended what both teams have accomplished thus far.
“The Warriors, give them a lot of credit, they’re playing hard and we are too,” Thompson said. “I don’t think it’s boring or nothing like that. I think that both teams are locked in and understand that there’s a bigger goal and they just view the competition in front of them as an obstacle they got to get around or a wall they got to push through.
“So obviously these other series are going back and forth and going longer than four games, but there is going to be a time when we’re going to go through some adversity and we might drop a game, so we just got to be prepared and we ready to play every night.”