Warriors ready for rematch with road-weary Cavaliers

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors will be seeking a measure of revenge against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.

Again.

When the Cavaliers and Warriors meet in a nationally televised contest, it’ll be more than just a rematch of the 2016 NBA Finals, won in seven games by Cleveland.

It also will be a rematch of the Christmas Day game, which also was won by the Cavaliers.

The Finals’ win required a three-game sweep after trailing 3-1. The December victory came after the Cavaliers trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter.

In both occasions, a late jumper by Kyrie Irving made him the hero.

The schedule gives the Warriors an advantage in the rematch of the rematch. They haven’t left Northern California in the last three weeks, and have had three days off since beating Detroit 127-107 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers will be playing their sixth road game in 11 days.

“They’re even more dangerous,” Cavaliers star LeBron James said Sunday of the Warriors, who added All-Star Kevin Durant in free agency over the summer. “They’re even more dangerous than they were last year, and that’s pretty hard to say because they were a damn great team last year. They’re even better this year.”

That’s one reason James has pushed the Cavaliers to get better. And they believe they have with the addition of veteran guard Kyle Korver, acquired in a trade with Atlanta on Jan. 7.

Korver shot just 2-for-10 in losses at Utah and Portland in his first two games for the Cavaliers, but rebounded with a 7-for-10, 18-point effort that contributed to a 120-108 win at Sacramento on Friday.

The Warriors also made a recent trip to Sacramento, which is about 90 miles northeast of Oakland. That’s as far as the NBA schedule has forced Golden State to travel since returning home from Cleveland following the Christmas Day game.

Golden State has gone 7-1 since the Cleveland loss, beaten only by Memphis in overtime.

Much of the focus last week following routine home wins over Miami and Detroit was on the upcoming duel with the defending champs. The Warriors made every effort to keep the regular-season meeting in perspective.

“It’s more important that we play well,” Warriors forward Draymond Green responded after the Detroit win when asked which would be his preference Monday: Playing well or winning.

“We need to get better,” he continued. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Green then paused for a moment.

“Of course,” he noted, “when we play well, we usually win.”

The Cleveland game begins one of the Warriors’ most interesting weeks of the season.

They’ll host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday in Durant’s second game against his old team and old pal Russell Westbrook. They will then get a rematch with Houston, a team that beat them in December, to tip off a four-game trip Friday.

Durant poured in 36 points in the Christmas Day loss to Cleveland. He missed 12 of his 23 shots that day, and has since connected on half or more of his attempts in six of eight games.