The Golden State Warriors are in the middle of their longest break between the Western Conference Finals and the NBA Finals since their dynasty started in 2015.
Since they swept the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, Steve Kerr's team will have had nine days off before the NBA Finals begin Thursday in either Milwaukee or Toronto.
In 2017, the Warriors had eight days off between the final two rounds of the postseason, but their NBA Finals opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers, also had an extended rest.
That will not be the case this year, as the Eastern Conference Finals winner will have a significantly shorter layoff than the defending NBA champion.
The winner of the Eastern Conference Finals could be decided Saturday if the Toronto Raptors win at home, but if the series goes to Game 7, the East champion will have two days off to prepare for Golden State.
NBA Finals Schedule
All Times ET
Game 1: Thursday, May 30, 9 p.m.
Game 2: Sunday, June 2, 8 p.m.
Game 3: Wednesday, June 5, 9 p.m.
Game 4: Friday, June 7, 9 p.m.
Game 5: Monday, June 10, 9 p.m.
Game 6: Thursday, June 13, 9 p.m.
Game 7: Sunday, June 16, 8 p.m.
Two years ago, the Warriors were not affected by a long layoff, as they won Game 1 on their home floor over Cleveland.
When they had seven days off before the NBA Finals in 2015, the Warriors took Game 1 from Cleveland in overtime at Oracle Arena.
In fact, the amount of rest, whether it be a week or two days, has not changed the result of Game 1 for the Warriors in the past four years, as they have opened the NBA Finals with a win in each of those four appearances.
This time around, the Warriors are facing a race to get 100 percent healthy for the NBA Finals.
While all eyes have been on Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins has been progressing toward game action.
According to a team-issued injury update on Thursday, Cousins is likely to play at some point in the NBA Finals. Durant, meanwhile, has not been cleared for on-court activities.
The key for Cousins is to make sure he can play at a high level coming off his torn quad and be conditioned enough to participate in the NBA Finals.
Cousins told reporters on Thursday that he wants to help his team in the NBA Finals, per NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock.
"I think people know what I can do," Cousins said. "It's just about me being healthy. Of course, I want to be out there to help my team and to play the game that I love to play. I also just want to be healthy. This is an opportunity to do that."
Having Cousins on the floor in the NBA Finals would be a difference-maker for the Warriors, as they would have an elite paint presence who can add to the offensive production and protect the rim.
Cousins' ability to alter shots and slow down opponents from driving into the lane would help the Warriors challenge either Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kawhi Leonard when they cut toward the basket for high-percentage shots.
If Stephen Curry replicates his shooting form from the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors could have a dominant inside-outside combination with him and Cousins later in the series.
The one advantage the Eastern Conference winner could claim is home court, as both the Bucks and Raptors had better regular-season records than the Warriors.
A year ago, Golden State took Games 3 and 4 on the road in Cleveland to clinch the title, and they took Game 3 in Cleveland in 2017.
In the first three rounds of the 2019 playoffs, the Warriors have won six games on the road, including the clinching victories against the Houston Rockets and Portland in the previous two rounds.
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