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Jan 18, 2017
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After that thrilling Christmas Day matchup, NBA aficionados have been eagerly waiting for the MLK Day match bewtwen the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.

Instead, we had to settle for a lopsided revenge game, 126-91, in favor of the Dubs.

It was the first few games of the 2016 NBA Finals all over again, as the Cavs just couldn't find their mark (35% FG), while the Warriors validated their league-leading record (35-6) and made a strong statement.

As disappointing and delightful as it was for the respective fans of each team, this particular game bore a different significance for the two squads. In fact, the outcome of this match may have actually set off a chain reaction leading up to Cleveland and Golden State's possible Finals rematch.


FOR THE DUBS

Exorcised those Finals demons

The 3-1 jokes won't die soon, but this blowout win will surely lessen the impact of last year's failed championship campaign. The Warriors lost four straight games to the Cavaliers—including that unfortunate three-game collapse—prior to match, so a victory of this magnitude against their tormentors is certainly a confidence boost.

Kevin Durant = MVP?

The new Splash Bro has been getting flak for supposedly turning his back on the franchise that drafted him, a team that was a game away from the Finals. Although it's hard to hate on a guy who is having one of his best all-around seasons (versus Cleveland: 21 PTS, 9-16 FG, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK). Just ask LeBron:

Rounding into form

There were some questions regarding Golden State's bench and defense following its total offseason overhaul. This game silenced doubters, thanks to solid contributions from the old reliables (Draymond Green 11 PTS, 13 REB, 11 AST, 5 BLK; Andre Iguodala 14 PTS, 5-5 FG, 2-2 3P, 5 AST) and veteran acquisitions (Zaza Pachulia 13 REB).

FOR THE CAVS

Cured championship hangover

After giving the Warriors a sound beating on Christmas Day, the Cavaliers have only been able to muster a mediocre 6-5 win-loss record since then. If Cleveland hopes to repeat, they must put the title in the back of their minds and focus on the task at hand, one game at a time.

New chip on LeBron's shoulder

Durant outright outplayed his rival (20 PTS, 6-18 FG, 2 AST, 6 TO, -32 +/-), which the latter should take as a legitimate threat to the remainder of his career and legacy. We also hope Green's new [WWE] move will finally awaken the beast:

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Lot of lessons learned

Facing and being humiliated by perhaps the deadliest version of Golden State might actually do good for the Cavaliers in the long run. Coach Tyronn Lue will be able to draw up the necessary adjustments, while his players caught a glimpse of how dangerous their projected Finals opponents could be.

 

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