The Celtics all but took advantage of Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade, leaving LeBron with arguably his worst supporting cast since 2007. So if you are to have any chance of beating them at all, you have to make sure that defensively you're of one accord.
If the Cavs weren't favored previous year when they had Kyrie Irving, certainly nobody's betting on them to upset the defending champions without him. The shots it got in Game 7 were more than good enough.
"It's been a roller coaster", said James, who is seeking a fourth ring in his ninth finals appearance overall. It's impossible to keep James quiet, but it is possible to keep him in check and contain the damage he does to a manageable amount.
History, bragging rights, and, of course, the 2018 National Basketball Association championship are all on the line once more as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors rekindle their Finals rivalry in the National Basketball Association. James and Love combined to score 100 points in the two games, but Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder and Thomas were all shipped elsewhere by the Cavs in a series of trade-deadline moves. When he doesn't, they're 4-5. Those, by in large, came against the Toronto Raptors in the second round when Love scored more than 20 points on at least 50 percent shooting three times. In 2017, Golden State reclaimed the title.
It will take a Herculean effort to beat the Warriors. Cleveland's perimeter defense, a unit that has scuffled, has its work cut out in this series. While some teams have figured it out, Steve Kerr never seems to run out of new plays to unleash.
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In light of the Rockets' 27 consecutive misses on three-pointers in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, Van Gundy was asked to reflect on Game 7 of the 1994 Finals, when he was a Knicks assistant on the night John Starks shot 0-for-11 on three-pointers.
Notice the plus-7.6 point differential for the Warriors. Even if it just gives their defense something to think about, James needs all the help he can get - a common theme in this series. They probably won't get away with that against the Warriors.
The Warriors faced a similar challenge, as they, too, trailed 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals against the No. 1 Houston Rockets. The Cavs might follow the Rockets' gameplan and try to slow things down to a crawl against Golden State, and not having Iguodala could swing a few possessions towards the Cavs.
Houston built a lead in both games, but the loaded Warriors stormed back in each second half.
"Golden State has set the bar for the whole league, not just us".