Heading into the 2017-18 NBA season, many presume the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are on a collision course for their fourth-straight meeting in the NBA Finals.
Golden State has won two of the three meetings, with the Cavs pulling off a shocking upset in the 2016 Finals.
Even after losing star point guard Kyrie Irving to the rival Boston Celtics, the Cavs look like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
However, former Cleveland coach Byron Scott said on ESPN recently that the Cavs can't go into the season expecting to play Golden State at the end of the year. He went back to his playing days with the Los Angeles Lakers and said it's most important to prepare for the long season ahead first:
"It's all about getting to the Finals and winning a championship. You don't care who you play," he said. "We all presume it's going to be the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland again. I never went into training camp and hear [former Los Angeles Lakers coach] Pat Riley say, 'We're getting ready for the Boston Celtics.' He'd say, 'We're getting ready to win a championship.'
"He never picked only one team. Now, we all probably knew in our minds that it would probably be the Boston Celtics, but when we went to training camp, we were getting ready for the season. We never focused on one team."
Indeed, this year the Cavs have no margin for error, as Irving and the Celtics will be breathing down their necks. Still, though, Cleveland has LeBron James, so they'll always have a chance in the playoffs.
Scott said if the Cavs want to be like the Showtime Lakers, though, they need to continue taking care of business against whoever they play. Even though the Lakers and Celtics had many intense NBA Finals matchups in the 1980s, Scott said the team never went into a season only preparing for Boston:
"No. 1, we focused on us," he said. "If we did the things that we had to do, then we would win a championship. That's how Cleveland should be thinking."
With LeBron at the helm of the program and former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade on board, the Cavs have a strong veteran presence, which should make preparing for the upcoming season easier. James knows what it takes to win in this league, as do many of his teammates, so the Cavs should come out firing on all cylinders this season.