State Warriors guard Stephen Curry holds the
conference trophy after Game 5 of the NBA basketball
Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets
in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The
Warriors won 104-90 to advance to the NBA Finals.
Curry and LeBron James, this season's brightest stars taking
basketball's biggest stage.
Finals start June 4 with the Golden State Warriors against
the Cleveland Cavaliers, two teams who have little
experience playing this time of year.
getting ready to appear in his fifth straight finals. He won
two titles in Miami before coming back home to Ohio, and now
Curry wants what the four-time MVP has.
been here plenty of times before, five straight finals
appearances, I think, so we've got to bring our A game if
we're going to beat a great team and a great player like
that four times," Curry said. "We're excited about
the challenge. He had to win his first one at some point,
and nobody on our team has experienced that, so we're going
to be fighting like crazy every night."
Not for a
while, though. Both teams were so good in the conference
finals that they won too fast, the Cavaliers finishing a
sweep of top-seeded Atlanta in the East on Tuesday and the
Warriors completing their five-game victory over Houston a
layoff will benefit banged-up players on both teams, and
provide plenty of time to hype the Curry-James duel.
Cavaliers LeBron James, left, and Hawks DeMarre
Carroll battle for a loose ball during game four of
the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday, May 26,
2015, in Cleveland.
started in the same place, born in the same Akron, Ohio
hospital, but couldn't have been more different upon
arriving in the NBA. James was the can't-miss Chosen One
taken with the top pick in the 2003 draft, a perfect 6-for-8
combination of size and speed.
the sweet shot but a small stature, considered by many not
big enough for NBA super stardom when he was drafted out of
Davidson in 2009. Yet he put together a season-long
highlight package this season with his brilliant
ballhandling and smooth stroke and was voted MVP, finishing
two spots ahead of James.
averaged 31.2 points and shot nearly 50 percent from 3-point
range in the West finals, while James nearly averaged a
triple-double in the Cavs' four-game romp.
Warriors have home-court advantage after winning a
league-best 67 games. But the Cavaliers, despite a difficult
start to the season and the loss of Kevin Love, have been
even better in the postseason, with a 12-2 record.
matter what happens from here on out, to see what we've
accomplished being a first-year team together that's had
different changes throughout the course of the season,
that's faced so many obstacles throughout the season —
injuries here, transactions here, lineups here — it's
something we can be very proud of to this point," James
be his second crack at trying to help the Cavs win their
first title. They got there in 2007 but were swept by San
Antonio. The Warriors are seeking their first championship
some things to watch in the finals:
NEW KIDS ON
THE BLOCK: The Warriors' Steve Kerr and the Cavaliers' David
Blatt — who nearly signed on to work under Kerr before
getting the Cleveland job — make this the first time since
the league's first championship series that both coaches are
LIKE HOME: Golden State is 46-3 at Oracle Arena this season.
The Cavaliers have become just as unbeatable on their home
floor, winning 26 of their last 28 games at Quicken Loans
Arena, including 18 by double digits.
Kyrie Irving has been MVP of the All-Star Game and the
Basketball World Cup — where he started in the U.S.
backcourt alongside Curry. Now he gets his chance in the NBA
Finals, with plenty of time to rest the knee and foot
injuries that caused him to miss two games in the conference
finals. The time off will also benefit fellow All-Star and
world champion Klay Thompson, who began experiencing
concussion symptoms after being kneed in the head in the
series clincher against Houston and will have to pass the
league's concussion protocol before returning to action.
THE KING: Kawhi Leonard turned in a solid defensive effort
against James last year when San Antonio beat Miami. Among
the options for the Warriors against James is Draymond
Green, the runner-up to Leonard this season for Defensive
Player of the Year.
AUSSIES: Warriors center Andrew Bogut got under Dwight
Howard's skin, and Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova has
angered opponents in the last two rounds, so players on both
sides will have to avoid getting fired up by a feisty one
from Down Under.