The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers really are the two teams many expected to come out of the West and East and duke it out in the NBA Finals. Both teams had some hiccups along the way getting to the Finals but tonight they have made and look to square off and fight for a trophy. Both teams will attempt to end long title droughts, with the Cavaliers looking to win their first NBA championship ever with LeBron at the helm. And how long had that been in the works for Cavs fans?
The Warriors will hit the court going into the Finals for the first time in 40 years. They finished the regular season with a league-best 67-15 record and have gone 12-3 over the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Cleveland’s James and Golden State’s Curry have led their teams to the NBA Finals showdown on what it seems like, sheer will, but only one team, working together can complete the fairy-tale run to a long-awaited crown as both have been vying for.
This will be a fairytale opportunity for James, who is a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, that now finds himeself on the brink of realizing the dream that motivated him first to leave Cleveland in the hunt for his first championship, to then leave the Miami Heat last July and return to the Cavaliers to win them the trophy, at Mecca, for James where it all began. Many fans from his drafting believed only he could bring the championship to the Ohio city, which could become Cleveland’s first major team sports championship – since the 1964 NFL Browns won a crown in the pre-Super Bowl era. As every local fan knows, that’s the longest title drought of any US city. But they don’t call him the King for nothing.
“I’m a guy who believes in unfinished business,” James said to media pre-final. “We all know how long it has been since a champion has been in this city.”
On the other bench, Curry, this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player and the league’s hottest new rising star, has ignited the Warriors to the NBA’s best record and has his team in their first final in decades, since 1975.
“It’s going to be a special joy these next two or three weeks to finish off this journey,” Curry said. “The Bay Area has been waiting 40 years. It’s time we got it done.”
These two sporting giants, James and Curry, will collide when the best-of-seven championship series begins tonight in Oakland, California, on the home court where Golden State set this year’s NBA-best record at 46-3, that includes only once loss at home, being 7-1 in the playoffs.
“To get to the NBA Finals for the first time in 40 years for the Warriors, it’s more than relief. It’s joy,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Our players are feeling it and I know our fans are.”
“He never stops moving.” – James on Curry
Curry, 27, and James, 30, coincidentally enough, were both born in Akron, Ohio. Curry’s father was playing for the Cavaliers when Steph was born. James became a prep star in Akron and later a top draft pick made by Cleveland. James took the Cavs to their first NBA Finals in 2007, but they were swept by San Antonio. Failing to get back to the finals three years in a row, pushed James to leave for Miami. There, James won two NBA titles and reached the finals twice more. But it wasn’t enough. He came back home and revamped the Cavs, who couldn’t reach the playoffs without him. He has set into motion the process of making them real champions.
“I hope everyone here understands that it’s not easy to even get to this point,” James said of the process and hard battle to get back to the finals.
And he would know! James who spent the past four seasons in Miami, will become only the ninth player in NBA history to compete in the NBA Finals five years in a row. He has been at his peak, averaging 27.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists a game in the post-season.
“That’s a major dilemma for everybody,” Kerr said of stopping James. “He’s a great player, physically so strong. You know he is going to have a huge impact on the game. You just try to limit him as much as you can.”
Curry on the other hand has averaged 29.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the playoffs as defenders have been incapable of stopping him. “Same way you slow me down — you can’t,” James said of Curry. “He never stops moving. His ballhandling, his ability to shoot the ball off the dribble and catch, it’s uncanny. He just creates so many matchup problems for your defense. You just have to always be aware.”
With two unstoppable forces racing at top speed at each other, just aching to collide there are going to be fireworks in this series. Look for explosive action, high scoring and fast-paced action up and down the court. Whatever strategies are played, this will be an entertaining series for a final. The Warriors are going in as the favorite, but never count out the influence of LeBron James.
Our Pick: Warriors win Game One due to home court advantage