DAR Sports: The 5 Best NBA Rivalries Of The 2010s

By @TrueGodImmortal

In the NBA, rivalries are what make the game fun to watch. Whether it is a player against a player, or an entire team versus another, the competitive spirit of the game makes the rivalries that much more interesting and through the years, we've seen some great rivalries. Today, I  wanted to look at some of the best NBA rivalries of this decade, and with the decade coming to an end, there are only a few rivalries that truly grabbed the attention of the viewing audience. Let's take a look at the 5 best rivalries of the 2010's, as we revisit the elite rivalries between some of the best teams of this decade. Let's get into it.

5. Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

-This rivalry really came about due to the fact that the Big 3 Celtics seemed to have the number of the Heat (before Bosh) and the Cavaliers (during the first LeBron stint), and that would prompt LeBron and Bosh to head to Miami to make something happen for the future. The result? One of the most heated rivalries of that era came at one of the most interesting times in basketball. The Celtics Big 3 were aging. The Heat Big 3 was essentially in their prime together and as a result, they handled the Celtics for the most part.... well, maybe not handled, but they definitely finally overcame the challenge of the Boston Big 3. In 2012, with the end of the Boston Big 3 era coming, they would face each other in the Conference Finals and go 7 games, with LeBron having one of his greatest playoff games in that series. To add to the drama, Ray Allen would leave the Celtics and join the Heat in the off-season, but unfortunately the Celtics couldn't get back to the Conference Finals to challenge the Heat again. For the Heat, they finally conquered the giant that forced them to come together and eventually put an end to their run.

4. Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers

-Is it really a rivalry if one team wins a majority of the games? I would say so. Still, the fact remains that the Warriors and Clippers have been battling it out for the last few years, starting really back in 2012 before kicking off heavily on the Christmas Day game in 2013, which for many is the actual beginning of the rivalry. For me, I think the biggest moment of their battle came in 2014, during the first round of the playoffs when these two teams met and a controversial series led to the Warriors losing in 7 games. Then, over the next number of games between the two teams, Steph Curry went out on a mission and would destroy the Clippers at any chance he got. The battles between Chris Paul and Steph, Blake Griffin and his struggles with Draymond Green, all the way to the bench units have been exciting for the most part, though in the most recent matchups, the Warriors seem to have the Clippers number. The Clippers finally got a win over the Warriors recently, but that game didn't feature Klay Thompson or Steph Curry. When both teams are at full strength, the Warriors seem to be far beyond the Clippers, and in order to settle this, we need a Warriors vs Clippers first round series this year to finish this rivalry off the right way.... which would be a sweep by Golden State.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder vs San Antonio Spurs

-Before Kevin Durant left OKC, this was one of the most vicious rivalries between these two teams. For the Spurs, the Thunder presented the challenge of being a young team with good defense, and for the Thunder, the Spurs represented the passing of the torch and they wanted to claim the title of being the team in the West. Through the regular season, these teams battled heavily, but what stuck out the most is their playoff battles. 2012 marked the beginning of the Thunder era, as they would defeat the Spurs to advance to the NBA Finals, but they would meet again in 2014 in the Conference Finals with the Spurs getting the victory. These teams would meet one final time in the playoffs in 2016, where the Thunder would get the best of the Spurs in the 2nd round and advance to the Conference Finals following a 6 game series victory. While the rivalry was essentially cut short by KD leaving the Thunder, perhaps there is a way that the Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony led Thunder build their own rivalry with the Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge Spurs? Unlikely, but anything is possible.

2. Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers

-Quite possibly the most slept on rivalry of all time. The Heat seemingly owned the Pacers, but truth be told, the Pacers gave the Heat some nightmares through the seasons. As the Pacers attempted to get better and become a formidable team, the Heat were on the path to being one of the best teams in NBA history. They would first meet in 2012 during the 2nd round, and it seemed as if the young Paul George led team just didn't have what it takes. The Pacers would lose in 6, but work to get better and they would find themselves in the Conference Finals facing the Heat. This rematch would lead to the Pacers pushing the Heat to 7 games, but still coming up short, while 2014 would see the Heat prevailing in the Conference Finals through a 6 game series. The Heat pulled out the win three years in a row in the playoffs, but the Pacers would win during the regular season as well, and this was really a well balanced rivalry. The Pacers would just get wins, but the Heat would get wins when it counted the most. Not to mention, the history between LeBron and Paul George along with a separate rivalry between Lance Stephenson and LeBron made this one of the most entertaining battles of all time. While the Heat vs the Pacers wasn't one for the ages, it was one for this decade for sure.

1. Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers

-Were you really expecting something different on this list? This rivalry started in the 2014-2015 season even before the actual NBA Finals. These teams met twice in solid contests and split the games. At that time, the Steph Curry and Klay Thompson led Warriors team seemed slightly overmatched by the Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and LeBron led Cavs, but they were about as equal as they could be. Essentially, LeBron wanted to create a team that could be younger and faster to beat the Spurs, who ended his run as a champion with the Heat. Then, the Warriors came about. The Warriors beat an injury riddled Cavs in 2015 to win the NBA Title, the Cavs beat an injury riddled Warriors in 2016, then the Warriors added Kevin Durant. This would make the rivalry even bigger, and in the 2017 Finals, with both teams fully healthy, the Warriors destroyed the Cavs essentially in 5 games. They face each other later tonight (if you're reading this...It might be too late), and most people believe this rivalry will culminate in a 4th Finals battle between the two. Make no mistake, of all the rivalries of the 2010s, this is the greatest hands down.



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