LeBron undaunted by challenge of facing Warriors in Finals
LeBron undaunted by challenge of facing Warriors in Finals
30 May, 2017, 06:48
Never have two teams been so dominant on their respective paths to the Finals. The Cavs have lost one game so far and it largely happened because LeBron James had one of the worst games of his playoff career.
FILE - In this June 16, 2016, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) look at each other during the second half of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals, in Cleveland. They need more than one, but it starts with this year's title - it is championship or bust for them.
DeMar DeRozan may have summed it up best earlier this month after a 51-win season for the Raptors was abruptly ended by way of a James-led sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Insane as it sounds considering they've been the most dominant team in the National Basketball Association over the past three seasons, this Warriors group - led by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson - aren't just healthy. From Christmas and Showcase games, to of course the NBA Finals. With a combined seven All-Stars, three Rookies of the Year, seven All-NBA team occupants and three former MVPs, it's no wonder why this matchup is as explosive as it is. They do something, we come back and do something.
Both teams have compared favorably with each other this postseason.
In Golden State, the time to win is now.
It's hard to imagine the National Basketball Association finals without LeBron James, partly because there have been so few without him.
It's also hard to see what exactly the future of the Warriors will be.
The Warriors have to internalize a lot of things about how to better defend Irving. Well, a lot of buzz surrounds Klay Thompson and whether or not he'll be traded or have to find a new team once his contract expires.
The pressure is going to be on Kevin Durant all series long. It's all very tentative. Durant certainly wasn't the first player to seek an instant championship through free agency. If they win, it would put his GOAT eligibility in question.
Last season's NBA Finals will always go down in the annals of the NBA. "They've been right at the top, best team in the league for three years straight now". It's a stamp of confirmation of their success. For as much as the Celtics accomplished this season, from Thomas' rise to superstardom to Al Horford's helpful fit and progress up and down the roster, they sit in the latter category for now. The Warriors and Cavs each have a title to show for it, with this year serving as a tie-breaker for fans. "They've been super-impressive", Love said.
James does believe that his these Finals, his seventh straight trip to the championship round, will have people appreciating his career no matter what the outcome. It seems as though everyone thinks his performance, numbers and drive will finally decline after every season.
The Warriors defense ranked third in the league giving up 102.0 points per game in the playoffs and the Cavs, giving up 103.2 points per game, were sixth. They, like LeBron, are chasing the ghosts of greatness at this point, and the Warriors had a Jordan record in their sights.
Staying on James, this series can easily end or propel LeBron's MJ conversation. He's about to play for the championship once again, a 7th consecutive time to be exact. On the other hand, losing his fifth Finals out of eight would tarnish his legacy to a point of where yes, he's one of the best-just not the best. Rather, it's about whether or not he'll be the difference maker in this year's series. Offensive rebounds, they kick it out to 3 and relocate. The path the two teams forged to the Finals may have been inevitable, but he sees no reason not to enjoy what comes next. That's enough motivation alone.
The Warriors enter this year's edition of the NBA Finals with a ideal 12-0 record, while the Cavs' only loss came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the BostonCeltics. A battle of identities.
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For what he does, what he brings, it's not enough. "They care about my health, not just being a basketball player", Thomas said. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love's roles as LeBron's sidekicks will be scrutinized and reevaluated throughout the series.
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