One of the best rivalries in NBA History is the rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This isn’t one of those rivalries that has been around for 100 years, but it will go down as one of the best rivalries that the league has ever seen. A team from the Western Conference doesn’t usually develop a rivalry with a team from the East, but that is exactly what happened in this case. NBA fans could make a pick before the season that the Warriors and Cavs would meet in the NBA Finals, and that prediction came true each time. With LeBron James’ departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers, this rivalry seemed to end after the conclusion of the 2017-18 NBA season. Even though the rivalry came to an abrupt end, there is no doubt that the legacy of this rivalry will live on for years to come.
History of Warriors and Cavaliers Rivalry
The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have been playing against each other since the 1970 season, and the Warriors have had a clear edge. Golden State holds a 75-59 lead over the Cavaliers in the all-time season series, including games played during the postseason. The Warriors have currently won eight straight games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that number is likely to grow as the Cavaliers are going through a total rebuild. Golden State also holds a 15-7 lead over the Cavaliers in postseason games, with all of those meetings coming since the 2015 NBA Finals. This started a string of four straight meetings in the NBA Finals and is the basis for this incredible rivalry. It’s hard to predict what will come in future seasons, but it appears that this rivalry will end for all intents and purposes.
The Golden State Warriors actually got their start in Philadelphia in 1946 before moving to the West Coast in 1962. The team officially became the Golden State Warriors in 1971. They are currently members of the Pacific Division in the NBA’s Western Conference. Golden State was not one of the popular picks to win the 1975 NBA Championship, but they beat all odds to win one of the most impressive NBA Championships in league history. The Warriors were once a small market franchise, but recent success has made them into one of the wealthiest organizations in professional sports. Golden State holds the record for most regular season wins in NBA history, posting a 73-9 record during the 2015-16 regular season. The Warriors play their home games at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, and feature one of the loudest and most raucous home crowds in the NBA.
The Cleveland Cavaliers came around much later than the Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers came into the NBA as an expansion team before the 1970 season, and they have been in Cleveland since the creation of the franchise. Things didn’t go so well for the Cavaliers during the early years, but they became a perennial playoff contender beginning in the late 1980’s. The Cavaliers began play at the Cleveland Arena, but the team calls Quicken Loans Arena home today. Cleveland was without an NBA Championship until local hero LeBron James led them to the title following the 2015-16 season. Since LeBron has left the franchise again, they are once again one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Head to Head Comparison of Warriors vs. Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have just won one NBA Championship, but they have advanced to the NBA Finals five times since 1970. Cleveland has won seven division titles since they became a franchise, including four straight Central Division titles from 2015-18. The Golden State Warriors have appeared in the NBA Finals eight times, and have won five NBA Championships. The Warriors have won just six division titles in their team’s storied history. The Warriors have seen 18 former players be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, while the Cavaliers have had just four Hall of Famers suit up for their team. With the recent success of both teams, and the superstars that played in each city, that number will likely go up when this current group of players retire.
Look at Last Games Between the Warriors and Cavaliers
The Cavaliers and Warriors meet just twice during each NBA regular season, but with the recent clashes in the NBA postseason, we only have to go back to the 2016 season to glance at the last 20 games. The Warriors have a huge edge over the Cavaliers since that span, posting a 15-5 since the start of the 2016 NBA Finals. Golden State was dominant at Oracle Arena, winning 9 of the 11 games played on their home court. The Cavs managed to win four games at Quicken Loans Arena, but also lost five times at home. Taking a look at the results in relation to the over/under can help us make predictions for what might happen going forward in this rivalry. The two teams went under the total 11 times, while going over just eight. Golden State and Cavaliers had one “push” in the last 20 games when the odds for the point total was set at 209. If you were to make a betting prediction for this rivalry since 2016, odds are that you would have bet on the Warriors.
Detailed Series Splits For the Rivalry
It is odd to look at the regular season games during this rivalry since we are most familiar with watching these two teams meet in the postseason. The Warriors have been the the favorite in 17 of the past 20 matchups against the Cavaliers. Golden State was able to cover as the favorite in 11 of these games, and they were also able to cover a spread given 3.5 points. Cleveland went 2-1 when being the betting favorite, and also were the winning bet when being the underdog on six different occasions. It’s pretty clear that the Warriors have gotten the better of the Cavaliers, but they haven’t always been the best betting pick.
With LeBron James moving to the Los Angeles Lakers it appears that this rivalry has officially ended. The Warriors seemed to dominate this rivalry, but the Cavaliers will always point to the NBA Championship in 2016. This rivalry ended almost as fast as it began, but it will go down as one of the better rivalries in league history.