When your family sits down Christmas Day to watch the Cavaliers host the Warriors (2:30 p.m. ABC) and your Uncle Johnny says, "This might be the best rivalry since the Lakers-Celtics back in the day," he's not the only one thinking that might be true.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue agrees Cleveland and Golden State have started something unique. When a reporter asked him Friday how the Cava-Dubs compare to those legendary championship matchups between Boston and Los Angeles, he sees some similarities.
"Well, it's a lot of championships won in that era," Lue said, via ESPN.com. "But if both teams stay together and both teams continue to keep winning, it could be like that. They have a great team over there on the other side and we have a great team also, so when you talk basketball, you're going to talk Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio.
"That's who you're going to talk about. And it's a great place to be in."
Cleveland and Golden State have a ways to go before they can match the longevity of the Lakers-Celtics rivalries back in the day. The two teams met six times in eight years between 1962 and 1969 (the Celtics won all six meetings). The franchises renewed the rivalry in the mid-1980s, with Magic Johnson and the Lakers winning two of three NBA Finals meetings against the Celtics in a four-year span.
Yet the two franchises never met three years in a row in the NBA Finals.
Of course, Golden State and Cleveland have met in the last two NBA Finals, with Golden State winning the first, and the Cavs overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win last season. No one would be surprised to see the two teams meet again for the championship this season. The Cavs sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 22-6 mark, and the Warriors lead the Western Conference at 27-4.
For now, players on both teams can expect to hear plenty of talk about the NBA's newest rivalry, even if some try to write it off as just another game.
"For us, we're just going to go out and play our game and have fun," Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving said, via ESPN. "It's just a game at the end of the day. We're playing in the regular season and I know there definitely will be high emotions in both locker rooms. That's a given. If you're not getting up for this game -- all the great players that will be on the floor at one time -- you shouldn't be in there."