Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives around Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland.
POWER FORWARD: Draymond Green vs. Kevin Love.
Curry told me in in a one-on-one interview in Oakland in November that last year’s devastating NBA Finals loss to Cleveland was “something you’ll never forget”. Bowman recalled with a grin. He single-handedly carried a depleted Cavs team to Game 6 of the 2015 Finals against the Warriors, sparked their historic comeback from 3-1 down in the 2016 series, and in these playoffs has actually found a way to BE BETTER. With the Warriors having plenty of practice time thanks to sweeping the Spurs, it’s a daily ritual to see, when reporters are allowed into the gym, Thompson going through a lengthy routine with assistant coach Chris DeMarco, dripping with sweat as he fires up one shot after another. It’s really that simple.
Both are ahead of Tom Brady and Serena Williams while neither could top the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Phil Mickelson, Neymar or Usain Bolt.
Defence has been the question for the Cavaliers all season. Cleveland’s rugged glass-eater could be a hard matchup for the Warriors. It was a franchise record for scoring in one quarter of a playoff game. This group almost beat the full-strength Cavs previous year, and adding Kevin Durant tipped the scales in their favor.
To make his dream a reality, James tells The Athletic that he’ll continue to work with his business partners, including Maverick Carter, Randy Mims and agent Rich Paul. “He did a great job of that”, Durant said.
Let’s get back to those numbers. When they score 102 or less, they’re 1-9.
Curry is now leading the Warriors to a 12-0 record in the playoffs, the longest winning streak in NBA Playoff history. Perhaps Cleveland can win shootouts.
Then, like James did in 2010, Durant chose to join a more talented, championship-ready roster with the Warriors last summer. Clearly, Cleveland understands what it takes to frustrate the Warriors just enough.
Durant is the difference. There’s no one under more pressure than Durant, who has faced huge backlash for his decision to defect from the Thunder, even catching blame for the lack of competitiveness in this postseason, despite being a member of only one team. But he knows as well as anyone what James, averaging 32.5 points this postseason, can do. You get the rationale. There’s Warriors coach Steve Kerr and the after-effects of back surgery that have led to absence.
Cavaliers are on the wrong end of “The Shot”, the name of a famed series-winning basket hit by Michael Jordan in the 1989 Eastern Conference quarter-finals that is one of the most replayed National Basketball Association plays in history. However, Golden State simply has too much talent.
They haven’t blinked. They’re 27-1 in their last 28 games.