LeBron James is the best player on the planet when he dials it up, and he reminded every one of that leading his Cavaliers to the NBA title last season.
On the other side of the scale, after losing the title, the Golden State Warriors reloaded by adding Kevin Durant to a roster that already won 73 games and went to Game 7 of the NBA Finals last season. Along those same lines, the Spurs added Pau Gasol to replace Tim Duncan, and the Celtics picked up Al Horford to bolster a strong young team.
Joe Varden of The Cleveland Plain Dealer asked LeBron what he thought of all these teams stacking up.
“I know teams switch and pick up new coaches or new players, and their whole goal is kind of they want to beat me,” James told cleveland.com, in a candid discussion about the upcoming year and his place in the sport at age 31, in this his 14th season. “It’s never just about me, but I always hear them saying, ‘We gotta beat LeBron.’ It’s not just me on the court, but I understand that teams get together in this conference and across the league to try to beat me.”
If anyone should be used to having a target on his back, it’s LeBron.
And he’s not wrong. You can argue he did the same thing in Miami, but he’s not wrong in this case.
The Warriors adding Durant was all about confounding how Cleveland and everyone else can defend the Warriors — particularly the small-ball “death lineup.” Oklahoma City and Cleveland had success putting their best defensive forward (Durant of OKC and LeBron for Cleveland) on Draymond Green and switching his pick-and-roll with Curry, then hoping Harrison Barnes didn’t make their big pay in a mismatch. Barnes couldn’t, it worked.
Now take out Barnes and put in Durant. Good luck defending that lineup now.
LeBron is right, the Warriors did target him. He’s the champ. He and the Cavaliers are the bar to clear. Can he and Cleveland rise up o task is the real question?