James and Curry. LeBron and Steph. Either way you rank it, the NBA’s 1A and 1B stars begin the final step to their quest for the Larry O’Brien trophy thursday night at Oracle Arena.
For the past two seasons the NBA has named Steph Curry its most valuable. Four times has LeBron James received such recognition as the league’s very best.
This series has received more focus than most NBA final rematches would usually garner due to the recent cooler talk, “who is the best player in the NBA? Curry or LeBron?”
Not only is Curry now a two-time reigning MVP. He is an NBA champion and has now led his team to an NBA regular season record of 73 wins. He has slowly become as popular or if some dare to say, even more popular than even the ‘King’ of the sport himself LeBron. Curry has grabbed the attention of viewers due to his ‘average’ or ‘normal’ physical looking appearance. Rather than dominate the game like James with his size, Curry dominates with his skillset which has caught the attention of fans everywhere. His shot might be the most lethal weapon any player has had in his arsenal in possibly NBA history. His range is unheard of, prompting Larry Bird to suggest we bring out a four-point line (Larry, lets take a deep breath for a second). Curry is once again bringing the sharp-shooter his well due respect, and somewhere preparing for a TNT broadcast Reggie Miller is smiling from ear to ear watching.
LeBron is still LeBron, but he has adapted. No, he isn’t going to knock down 25-30 foot jumpers and fade away three pointers. LeBron knows he doesn’t need to though, that is for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Channing Frye & J.R. Smith to sort out. This is where LeBron has most improved, the mental side of the game. His defense may not always be the best, but his gifted physical abilities allow him to make plays even when beaten off the dribble. Offensively his game has been adjusted to increase the use of his above average passing/vision as well as his gifted teammates. Instead of forcing the game to himself, LeBron seems to be allowing it to come along at its own pace. He has not been perfect by any means, but he’s proving he will adapt to what is best for the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to win.
So, two players, both arguably are the best on the planet in their sport. They are separated by their vast unique differences in style of play and physical stature, and now have a series in which to prove who has the ability to elevate their team’s game to that higher level.
This time around Cleveland has remained healthy through the first three rounds. Their stars have not only remained on the court (mainly Irving & Love), but have also been productive. Unlike last year’s meeting, the Cavs will be able to rely on much more than simply King James to give the Warriors issues on the defensive end. This will include allowing J.R. Smith to be the fourth or fifth scoring option on the team rather than the secondary scoring role he was forced into last year. Aka, don’t sleep on Cleveland, last year has really nothing to do with this year. This is not the same Cavs team, they are now healthy and all systems are a go. If anyone needs any proof just ask Toronto how it felt to lose four games by a minimum of 19 points on average in a best-of-seven. Ouch.
Golden State to some critics looked sloppy in the first three rounds. Yes, Steph was hurting and the team had to grind and find a way to claw wins out against the Rockets and Trail Blazers. However, the real test of being pushed to the limit by Oklahoma City and the response of their leaders Curry, Thompson & Green is undeniable. It is not easy to win 73 times when given only 82 opportunities. If that means anything, this Warriors team does in fact know what adversity is all about. There 3-1 rally proves just that, no matter the type of adversity or the pressure upon them, they will not be thrown from their game. So having struck back against the odds versus the Thunder, they too carry momentum going into the finals re-match, as well as home court advantage.
With both teams play and health improving, this NBA final looks like it should deliver a much more intriguing and entertaining series than these two teams were able to produce last year.
Now fans can scamper to their couches and enjoy not only two of the best teams in the NBA, but the leagues two biggest and brightest stars going head to head on its biggest stage. Again.
Whose the real MVP? Whose the NBA’s best? That’s all up to opinion.
One thing will be decided, which team is the NBA’s best in 2016