The Warriors' not-so-secret weapon, their small-ball lineup, was devastating during the 2016 regular season.
- 3-point defense. Forget Kyrie Irving vs. Curry. The only thing that kept Cleveland in the game in the first half was the usually brilliant play from James and Kyrie Irving and several missed layups by Golden State. LeBron also has three NBA Finals MVP Awards, trailing only Jordan's six. The Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday in Oakland.
And unlike the Warriors squad that blew a 3-1 Finals lead previous year after a record-setting 73-9 regular season, this version of the team is even more unsafe after adding former league MVP and four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant.
The harsh reality is that the quality of the numbers were dampened by the context provided to them. Cleveland is 12-1 in the playoffs, winning by an average of 13.6 points. Barnes drove to the rim 1.5 times per game during the 2016 National Basketball Association playoffs, where he scored just 1.08 points per possession.
According to the Game 1 betting odds at OddsShark, Cleveland is a seven-point road underdog. Klay, Draymond, Steph, and Kevin are simply too talented and too rested to lose this series.
Curry certainly didn't play poorly, but when the standard is MVP-an award he won that very regular season-he certainly didn't live up to the hype. James won his first title in 2012 with Miami in a five-game series over Durant and the Thunder.
During the 2016 NBA Finals, however, Curry was thoroughly outperformed by the opponent at his position-and there are no excuses for that.
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This season, at age 32, James averaged 26.4 points plus career highs of 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists as well as a league-high 37.8 minutes on the court a game.
"They deserve a lot more credit than, 'Well, they're talented". It's entirely understandable for an injury to hinder him, but back-to-back Finals with underwhelming performances is tough to accept. "I've been fortunate enough to be able to do that and be able to take two franchises [Heat, Cavs] to four Finals apiece and no one has ever done that either".
"LeBron is going to get his points and so is Kyrie".
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have combined for 33 championships and 52 NBA Finals appearances.
"Obviously it's a new season, especially this last series of the season, and we gotta bring it", Durant said of the best-of-seven clash. The Warriors added Durant in free agency - Does KD leave Oklahoma City if he beats the Warriors in last year's West Finals? - and won 67 games.
As quickly as the Warriors can put up points, the Cavs can do the same. After finishing second in the National Basketball Association behind Curry in regular season triples made for a fourth straight season, Thompson has been decidedly average offensively during the postseason, shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from 3-point range while averaging 14.4 points per game - down several from his 22.3 mark in the regular season. Golden State already killed it.