As Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors gear up for their fifth consecutive NBA Finals, this one will be much different than in seasons past.
For the first time during the Warriors dynasty, they will not face LeBron James or the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Los Angeles Lakers failed to make the 2019 NBA playoffs.
The Warriors and Cavaliers met four straight seasons with the former winning three of them. And much like the rest of the NBA and all of their fans, there will be an adjustment period not seeing James on the sport’s biggest stage.
Green is still trying to get used to the fact that when Game 1 begins against the Toronto Raptors, James won’t be in the opposing locker room, according to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
“It’s just weird,” the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green said. “More as a basketball fan than anything: ‘Damn, Bron not there.’ It’s super weird. You always relish the opportunity to play against a talent like that.”
It’s interesting to see players show their fandom a little bit with Green openly expressing the new feeling of not playing James in the NBA Finals:
“It’s just weird to look over there to know that you’re going to play someone completely different,” Green said. “It’s kind of a mindf—.”
The Warriors and Cavaliers had some of the most memorable moments in league history. Most notably is when the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 NBA Finals — capped off by James’ chase-down block on Andre Iguodala and Kyrie Irving’s subsequent clutch and eventual game-winning three-pointer over Stephen Curry.
Since Kevin Durant likely won’t be playing for at least the first two games, having James play the Warriors could’ve been much more reminiscent of the highly competitive 2015 and 2016 Finals and a lot less like the dominating Warriors the last two years.
And while many thought the James-Irving duo was gone forever, there are many swirling rumors that the two may reunite in Los Angeles. This may mean that in the next couple of seasons, Lakers-Warriors in the Western Conference Finals is possible.
As the Warriors play a different team without Durant to start, fans may be in a treat for a competitive NBA Finals — even if James is nowhere to be found.