close

Serious Sports: The NBA Play-In is fast approaching, Mackenzie Salmon and Analis Bailey explain how the tournament will be launched.

USA Today

In most cases, throughout his 18-year NBA career, LeBron James doesn’t want to see Stephen Curry succeed. That’s because James and Curry played each other in four NBA finals in a row.

While using the same logic as when the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on Wednesday, James argued that Curry should bring home the hardware at least this season.

“We are playing with, in my opinion, our league MVPs this year in Steph,” said James. “We have to be prepared for everything they have, they have championship DNA.”

After all, Curry forward Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr up against James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018. The Rriers won in 2015, James helped the Cavs the following year to become the first team in the NBA. Final history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, that’s in part that prompted the Warriors to acquire Kevin Durant, who then helped the Warriors win their title in a row while winning two Finals MVP.

NBA PLAY-IN MATCHUPS SET: The Lakers will face the Warriors, the Wizards end the unlikely run.

However, the Warriors look very different this season. For a year they were removed from two major exits (Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala) All-Star defender Klay Thompson has also been sidelined for several seasons in a row as he tore the ACL in the left knee. In Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against Toronto, before the right hamstring was torn in the defensive game on the day of the 2020 NBA draft.

“Everyone counts him this year,” James said of Curry. “Everyone said, ‘Klay is hurt now, can Steph be the leader himself? What will he do? Can he carry a team by himself? Can he lead the team into the season? Will he make the team float or not? ‘He did that and many more. ”

Curry ended the 2020-21 season with the league’s scoring title for the second time in his career. After averaging 31.8 points per game at the age of 33, Curry became the oldest champion since Michael Jordan, 34, led the NBA in scoring during the 1997-98 season (28.7 points per game). Curry also scored. Has surpassed his 2014-15 MVP seasons (23.8 points) and 2015-16 (30.1) while also leading the league with 3-pointer (328).

Other NBA players could be considered a stronger regular season due to their superior stats on that team, including Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Phoenix Suns guard. Chris Paul, Sun (51-21) and Nuggets (47-25) are second and third in the Western Conference, respectively.The Sixers (49-23) have the best record of the Eastern Conference and the Warriors ( 39-33) is ranked eighth in the Western Conference, behind the Lakers (42-30).

“If Stef wasn’t on the Golden State team, what would we look at?” James said. “Sometimes we get caught up in statistics and who has the best record compared to who has a good season? The best in that year In my opinion, Steph is the best season all year. ”

James found similarities to when Russell Westbrook won the NBA’s 2017 MVP of the season, although the Oklahoma City Thunder finished 6th in the West (47-35). A won the trophy because he broke Oscar Robertson’s triple double record in one season (81-79). Curry? He overtook Jordan and Kobe Bryant last month for most 40-point games in a month at 33 years and older (five), as did James Harden for the most NBA record three in one. Months (96) .Yet, only Michael Jordan (1995-96) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1979-80) won the NBA season’s MVP at the age of 33.

“Obviously I didn’t think Stef understood because that was another conversation in my eyes,” said James. “He played the best basketball all year.”

Curry may disagree with James thinking he is the NBA’s regular season MVP, considering what Curry told his teammates after finishing with 46 points in Sunday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

“No matter what anyone said, I really appreciate what they’ve brought this season,” Curry says. “It’s not pretty, it’s not a solid climb to get to this point. But I would like to thank everyone there for paying attention to the way we play. That is unlocking what I do best and trying to help myself and try to help others. ”

Curry may, however, appreciate the final compliment. Kerr calls Curry and James “the two greatest players of all time”.

“You expect greatness. That’s the part I really enjoyed playing in the finals with him and his Cleveland team, and those games are important, ”Curry says.“ It shows a whole new level of intensity and excitement and feeling. So urgent about it because you know how well you have to play in order to win games like that. ”

The Lakers expect the same thing in a play-in game against Golden State, mostly because of Curry.

“He’s going to be the snake’s boss,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said of Curry. “If we can limit his three-point effort and his free throw, then we have a high chance of winning. They play really well. Those people are rolling and playing the basketball team. We won’t go into this game because we think it’s going to be easy. ”

James had never thought of such a thing when he faced Curry. He calls it “uniquely beautiful and cool” that they face in the four NBA finals in what has shaped James’ NBA career so much. James may have likened his 18-year NBA career to the ‘Godfather’ trilogy considering his history with other star players, he has a memorable regular season match against the former Lakers star. Kobe Bryant.He faces former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett twice in the NBA Playoffs (2008 and 2010 Eastern Conference Finals) .He competes against the San Antonio Spurs three times in the NBA Finals ( 2007, 2013-2014)

But James and Curry’s history goes beyond the NBA finals.James publicly supported Curry after he became a mainstay about the Warriors refusing to visit the White House to celebrate their NBA 2018 title due to the rhetoric that Rift of former President Donald Trump, James also chose Curry for this season’s All-Star game, which began with Curry mimicking James’ chalk throw.

James said, “It’s always a level of respect beyond the basketball game, the way I feel for Steph.”

Follow USA TODAY NBA Writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Auto play

Show thumbnails

Show subtitles

Last slide, next slide