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Best of 25: The many ways Cavs-Warriors is a rivalry for the ages

Deck the halls with Cavs and Warriors!
For the third straight Christmas, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will face off on the NBA’s most festive day of the season. The Dec. 25 matchup (ABC, 3 p.m. ET) will mark the 25th meeting between the two teams since LeBron James returned to Cleveland. (The Warriors hold a 15-9 edge.)
In honor of this momentous occasion, here are 25 reasons Cavs-Warriors is the most entertaining rivalry in sports.

1. LeBron vs. Steph: Game of thrones
LeBron’s arrival in the NBA was forecasted, telegraphed from Akron, Ohio, before he even reached high school. Stephen Curry sneaked to the top in the middle of the night when nobody was looking. Now every year is another opportunity for them to reaffirm their mutual dominance over the NBA’s new golden age.
Lest you forget, LeBron was the original modern unicorn — a physical force of Russell’s height, a wizard with the vision of Cousy and a rim-attacker who can fly like Erving. Yet as we watched LeBron master all skills, we became infatuated with one: the smooth, silky, 3-point shot. And nobody fired it with greater spontaneity, speed and joy than Curry.
While James perfected the game, Curry defined it, and masters don’t take kindly to those who mess with their trade. As Steph stepped into the spotlight a couple of years back, LeBron intimated that specialists don’t warrant MVPs, and the two jawed at one another in the 2016 NBA Finals, when LeBron exacted revenge.
Basketball has enough love to go around, but LeBron and Steph will forever battle over influence, over whose handprint left the most indelible impression over the game they both love.

2. Who has Warriors paranoia?
Early in 2015-16, Cavs players would have the TV on when reporters entered their locker room after games in Cleveland. If the Warriors were playing that night, their game was frequently on the massive screen. While not all of the Cavs players would sit at their stalls and tune in, LeBron would hardly ever miss an opportunity to watch the new “darlings” of the NBA.
When word began to spread that the Cavaliers were suffering from “Warriors paranoia,” the team started turning off the TV or changing the channel prior to the media entering the locker room. From then on, the Cavs did their best to dispel the narrative that they were concerned about the Warriors.

3. Curry and coffee dehydrate Delly
It was the finest moment of Matthew Dellavedova’s career, but he could barely move. His entire body seized up in the cold tub after his 20-point explosion in Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals, and he was carried to a table, where several trainers tried to relieve massive cramping. Soon an IV was started and he ended up spending the night in the Cleveland Clinic. That was the toll that scoring 20 points and chasing Steph Curry around for 40 minutes took on him.
Some suggested the cramping was a result of his habit of drinking coffee at his locker pregame. Desperate to recover for Game 4, Delly skipped the coffee, then went just 2-of-9 and wasn’t as active defensively.

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