OAKLAND -- Though he has experienced only one game, Kevin Durant already feels the heat that exists when the Warriors and Cavaliers share the court.
Asked if Warriors-Cavaliers can be classified as a rivalry, Durant barely paused.
“Yeah,” he said Saturday after practice. “I think so.”
The teams meet Monday at Oracle Arena for the second and final time this regular season. Both hope to reconvene in the NBA Finals for the third straight year.
“I’m new here,” Durant said, “but for the most part the guys in the last two Finals have been playing against each other for a while. From Steph (Curry) to LeBron (James), to Klay (Thompson) to (Iman) Shumpert, to JR Smith and Kyrie . . . and Draymond, it’s a group of players that are familiar with each other.
“It’s good for our game. It’s good for competition and it should be fun.”
After beating Cleveland in six games in the 2015 Finals, the Warriors followed that up by sweeping the Cavaliers in the regular season.
The Cavaliers, who won the 2016 Finals in seven games, and posted a 109-108 comeback victory on Christmas Day in Cleveland, are trying to sweep the Warriors this regular season.
Beginning with Game 1 of the ’15 Finals, the Warriors are 9-7 against the Cavs. Cleveland, however, has won the last four meetings.
“It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere,” Durant said.
“But I wouldn’t say it means anything. If we win this game, what do we get? Both teams are trying to get better. Obviously, we want to win every game. But the thing that we get out these games is to see where we are, see what type of team we are.”
Durant’s only previous postseason experience against James came in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Durant was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James was with the Miami Heat.
Durant scored 36 points to lead OKC to a Game 1 victory, but the Heat responded by winning the next four games to take the series.