For nearly a year, it’s been building. And now, it’s finally arrived.
Round Three. The Rubber Match. The Trilogy.
The best rivalry in sports is back, period.
The block, the shot and the greatest way to end one of the longest title droughts for a city.
All of those moments still sting this Warriors team — who’ve made it clear that they want their revenge on Cleveland.
Draymond Green said back in October that he wanted to annihilate the Cavs “If” they came out of the East. Well Draymond, here’s your chance.
It’s also a chance for Kevin Durant to silence the haters for joining the Warriors — a team that was just a play or two away from repeating a year ago.
What happens if Durant shrinks in the Finals, then what? What will his excuse be for coming up short, LeBron?
Or how about Steph Curry, who was the talk of the NBA last year and seems like has taken a backseat to Durant. How does he respond to Kyrie this year? Will he re-establish himself as an elite player in the league when it matters the most?
I’m absolutely thrilled for the rematch, not only as a Cavs fan, but for the game itself. There is real destain between these two teams and I LOVE it.
Every player is healthy and both teams are at the peak of their game, so there will be no excuses. Absolutely none.
But what intrigues me the most of all, is LeBron himself. All the talk surrounding his historic playoff run only continues the debates between himself and Michael Jordan.
That’s why the microscope will be fully intensified on him to see if he can deliver.
This 2017 NBA Finals is All About One Man: LeBron James
The 2017 NBA Finals it’s a chance for LeBron James to claim his thrown as the greatest player of all time.
Yeah, you heard me. Greatest. Player. Of. All. Time.
IF, he hasn’t done it already.
A fourth ring, one which would come against arguably one of the greatest teams of all time, would cement his legacy as the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball.
As James as said, he’s accomplished everything in the league that he’s set out to do.
3-time NBA Champion and Finals MVP.
4-time regular season MVP.
A seventh consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, to put that one in perspective, no one has done it more than four times.
He’s arguably playing the best basketball of his remarkable 14-year NBA career, averaging a line of 33-8-7 this postseason, shooting 57% from the field, including 42% from three.
Durability and an endless motor have allowed James to chase that ghost in Chicago.
So what’s left for James to conquer?
The super team who called James soft, a baby and that he had his feelings hurt.
A super team who added Kevin Durant, a top-five player in the league, while keeping the core of the 73-9 team from a year ago.
James’ fourth ring, if it were to come against this team, would be his greatest accomplishment and the one that sets him apart from the rest, forever.
All of the Lebron haters would be forced to inevitably throw out his mediocre finals record and let it sink in that at age 32, in his 14th season, playing at the level that he is, will have one of the most incredible playoff runs of all time.
If the Cavs do indeed repeat as the champions, the debates and discussions will only further intensify that James has, if not already surpassed Jordan as the greatest ever.
Steph Curry Talks LeBron James Trash Talking During Game 1 of NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry is gearing up, along with his team, to defend their 2018 NBA Championship, their 2nd in a row and 3rd in 4 years, when the 2018-2019 regular season kicks off this fall, but he is still discussing the 2018 NBA Finals.
Curry specifically is discussing his shock as the trash talk from then Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, which threw Curry off.
Curry and James’ relationship is seemingly in an odd place. James was “like a mentor” to Curry when curry was in college playing at Davidson, but things seem a bit icy now as Curry’s Warriors and James’ Cavaliers (James is now on the Los Angeles Lakers) met in some heated battles in the NBA Finals over the past couple of years.
Despite the shift in their relationship, Curry was still caught of guard by James’ approach, particularly in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.
“It was never going to spill over to that” Curry said, during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller).
“But it was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.
“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’
“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”
The rift goes a bit deeper than that, and a book from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, entitled ‘Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry’, it is elaborated, highlighting a 2016 Halloween Party thrown by James that featured a dummy of Steph Curry that was on the floor, forcing guests to step over it.
Now that the two are in the same division, thanks to James’ signing with the Lakers, betting websites will have a field day this season when the two teams take the court, and James continues his mission to topple the juggernaut Warriors.
Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Allegedly Punched Warriors’ Draymond Green at Night Club
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green apparently took their on-court beef off the court as the two allegedly had an altercation at a Los Angeles night club.
According to online gossip site Bossip, Green had approached Thompson to apologize for what happened after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but Thompson wasn’t interested.
When Green persisted, Thompson punched Green.
Green and Thompson got into it numerous times throughout the Finals, with Green even insulting Thompson as Thompson attempted to shake his hand following the infamous Game 4.
Here is more from The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre:
Draymond Green was not the aggressor, he was trying to make peace. Tristan felt embarrassed by the end of the Finals diss moment and just unloaded. Couple players i spoke here in LA/on social media went with, “about time”
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) July 31, 2018
Kevin Love Signs Extension With the Cavs
Kevin Love surprised the Twitter GMs and signed a 4 year, $120 million extension to stay in Cleveland. The full value of the deal will wash out to 5 years and about $145 million, around $10 million below his max for an extension. This clearly signals that Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers want to remain competitive in the wake of LeBron James’ exodus.
The initial reaction across the NBA landscape was that Cleveland would look to tear the roster down to the studs and start over. The Cavs owe their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta if it falls outside of the top 10, so trading Kevin Love would’ve not only helped clear their books, but also almost guaranteed that they keep their pick. Bringing him back into the fold makes that much more precarious. The roster now contains a mixed bag of inconsistent youth and holdovers from the most recent LeBron era that won’t take kindly to a middling team not in the championship conversation. The Cavs seem to be split between two paths.
But that’s not forever. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, “Cleveland is still projecting to have close to $70M in cap space during the summer of 2020 to reshape the roster.” The Cavs can get off of George Hill, JR Smith and Kyle Korver for less than $10 million after this season. That leaves only Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson as expiring contracts in the following season to free the Cavs of all their (current) bad money. Cleveland is never going to be a free agent destination without LeBron, but keeping Kevin Love makes them a much more attractive option for free agents, and they’ll have plenty of money to play with.
If that doesn’t pan out, Cleveland can still trade Love in the future. This extension makes him a cost-controlled asset, giving other teams more certainty. Yes, it’s more years and more money but Kevin Love is still an All-Star. Making him the focal point of the offense should allow him to put up big numbers and recoup some of the market value he’s lost while playing a diminished role alongside LeBron. In the coming years, all the ghastly cap-spike deals will be coming off teams’ books, opening lots of cap space around the league. There are only so many stars available and some teams will inevitably strike out. Combine that with some pressure from ownership to win now and Kevin Love can be a very desirable option.
Even with the extension the Cavs are far from a playoff lock. Their second best player may very well be a rookie. So perhaps an injury or a few strategically placed DNPs could allow them to keep their pick. Either way, Love wanted to stay in Cleveland. That’s a nice change for a city that doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. The goalposts for success have changed, but after years of watching this team trudge through the doldrums of the regular season, this young, talented team could be a lot of fun for fans to watch night in and night out.
Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24
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