Over the last five years, LeBron James has grown accustomed to battling the Warriors at the height of their powers.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers dueled the Dubs in four consecutive NBA Finals, both with and without Kevin Durant. There were, of course, a few important constants in each of those Finals battles with James, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all sharing the floor.
Oh, how the times have changed.
Last season, James' first with the Lakers, he missed the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the NBA. While the Lakers recharged over the offseason with the acquisition of Anthony Davis, the Warriors went the other way. Decimated by injuries and the exodus of key players like Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, the Warriors find themselves gutting out a transition year with both Curry (broken hand) and Thompson (torn ACL) expected to miss most of, if not the entire season.
As such, Wednesday night's battle between James' Lakers and the Warriors minus Curry and Thompson felt weird to all those watching. But it didn't feel weird to James.
"Not when you're in it, you know," James said after the Lakers' 120-94 win at Staples Center, via ESPN. "Not when you're in it. I think when I'm watching them, you know, when I'm at home and we're on off nights and I'm watching them -- then it becomes weird then just seeing Klay in a suit and, you know, not seeing Steph out there. But not when you're playing. I played them in the Finals without Kyrie and Kevin. So no."
Was that last part wasn't necessary? We get it, the 2015 Cavs were a few stars short of a full deck and the outcome could have been different had everyone been healthy. It happens, let's move on.
Despite what James said, playing a Warriors team that is not even a shell of its former self had to feel weird after spending four years at each other's throats.
James and the Lakers no doubt are glad to see the Warriors removed from the Western Conference's crowded puzzle this season, leaving one less formidable opponent in their path to a title.
But Curry and Thompson will be back, and the Warriors will get off the mat soon enough.