The most anticipated game of the season was the best game of the season. Warriors-Cavs went down to the wire and lived up to its billing as the game to watch on Christmas Day.
The Warriors were in control for most of the afternoon. Through the first 39 minutes, Kevin Durant (36 points and 15 rebounds) appeared to be the trump card. But the Cavs came back, Richard Jefferson dunked all over Durant and cheap jerseys and Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving hit the game-winner.
When the Lakers began the season 7-5, beat the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder and also Hawks twice, a segment of the purple and gold populace in L.A. began to lose its mind, along with a fair amount of critics. Certainly, you heard it: The Lakers were playoff ready, Luke Walton was a genius, Swaggy P was unleashed and unburdened, D’Angelo Russell was prepared to make a major leap, and so on.
Eventually in an 82-game season, reality tends to interrupt the fantasy and slap some common sense in those guilty of being unreasonable. And the plain truth is the Lakers, while definitely a step beyond the 17-win sludge that inhabited Staples Center last season, remain a work in progress and there’s no guarantee they’ll be an elite team anytime soon.
With the burden of playing for a championship lifted, kick back to enjoy the experience of riding with The King, stretch your own limits and possibly reel in a couple more.
Landing Shaquille O’Neal to produce the first championship for Miami back in 2006 was a neat trick. Getting LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Wade in 2010 was the equivalent of David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. Now you’ve got to show us some real magic.
“We still have enough talent to win, that goes without saying,” Love said. “But take the best player in the world off your team, he just means so much to us. His usage is so high in what we do with both units that whether it’s the starting unit or the second unit, you take him away from our team and we lose a lot, naturally.”
Following each loss with James resting, the Cavs — and Irving — seem to brush it off. That makes sense. There’s no reason to envision life without James long term. And if something were to happen, there would be no way for the Cavs to make up for that loss anyway. They would collapse quickly and jerseys for cheap and be out of title contention in a blink.
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Curry was one part decoy, one part bystander while Durant handled the star duties and Klay Thompson filled in as the Warriors’ second-best offensive option. Irving and authentic nfl jerseys wholesale and Kevin Love from the other team played bigger roles than Curry, the two-time, reigning and first-ever unanimous MVP during his remarkable run the past two seasons.
Curry has been the NBA’s Everyman Sorcerer since the start of 2014-15, unassuming in appearance, spectacular in achievements. But he looked average at best with a 4-of-11 shooting performance that included 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and when he got to four fouls before he took his third shot, he was in danger of slipping below ordinary.
“It’s not like I’m new to the hype around the game,” Durant said. “Every time I’ve played against LeBron James, it’s been a huge game.”
The head-to-head matchup is lopsided. Including those Finals, LeBron is 17-4 career against Durant’s teams. But the statistics have been relatively even. Both average right around 30 points on right around 50 percent shooting against each other. LeBron has historically been better, but the matchup and talent discrepancy is close, which, for the Warriors, is a massive upgrade from the past.