Can LeBron James conquer the Warriors?
He tried to topple their strongest defender on a late play, crashing with all his might into Draymond Green, who simply grabbed the ball away. Much like the correct call of that play – deemed a controversial foul on Green – the answer to the overarching question:
Golden State won its fourth straight game over the Cavaliers, dating back to the 2015 NBA Finals, with an 89-83 victory today. But Cleveland has narrowed the margin – 21 to 13 to 8 to 6 – in those games.
The 2016 Finals could hinge on the Cavaliers fully turning the result against the Warriors, as both teams look positioned to repeat as conference champions.
“The record’s great,” said Stephen Curry, whose team improved to 28-1. “It doesn’t mean anything when we get to the playoffs. It’s how we’re playing and how we’re finding different ways to win games.”
Despite getting called for the late foul on LeBron, Green (22 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks) outplayed LeBron (25 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks).
That got Golden State past uneven contributions its starting guards – 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting by Curry, who left the game at one point with a calf injury, and 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting by Klay Thompson.
The Splash Brothers were far from alone in this sloppy matchup between the talented teams:
- The Cavaliers shot just 5-for-30 on 3-pointers, and the big three – LeBron (1-for-5), Kyrie Irving (0-for-6) and Kevin Love (0-for-5) – were particularly brutal
- Just two players made most of their shots – Shaun Livingston (8-for-9) and Andrew Bogut (2-for-2)
- This was the lowest score by each team this season
But the teams competed.
The game featured 10 lead changes and seven ties in the first half. The Warriors led the entire second half but never pulled away. Just when it seemed they would with a 10-point lead in the final four minutes, LeBron took over – dunk, block dunk:
But LeBron missed 3-of-4 free throws in the final couple minutes, including one after Green’s foul. That prevented the Cavs from getting closer than three.
You can bet he wants another shot at these Warriors, and I don’t mean Jan. 18.