James and Co un­daunted by beastly War­riors

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LEBRON James and the Cleve­land Cava­liers may need a Her­culean ef­fort to up­set the Golden State War­riors in the NBA Fi­nals but the game’s most pro­lific play­off scorer said he has beaten sim­i­lar teams be­fore.

James ac­knowl­edged that top­pling a War­riors team boast­ing two-time reign­ing league MVP Stephen Curry, four-times scor­ing cham­pion Kevin Du­rant, de­fen­sive spe­cial­ist Dray­mond Green and sweet­shoot­ing Klay Thomp­son will be among the tough­est tasks of his ca­reer.

But the three-times NBA cham­pion was also quick to point out that he has faced such a tal­ent-laden squad on the NBA’s big­gest stage be­fore – in 2013 against San An­to­nio while play­ing with Mi­ami – and came out on the win­ning side.

“It’s prob­a­bly up there,” James said af­ter prac­tice on Sun­day when asked if the up­com­ing War­riors clash rep­re­sents the tough­est task he has ever faced on court.

“Ob­vi­ously, I mean, I’ve played against four Hall of Famers as well too with Manu (Gi­no­bili), Kawhi (Leonard), Tony (Parker) and Timmy D (Tim Dun­can) on the same team. And if you add Pop (Gregg Popovich) in there, that’s five Hall of Famers.”

James even brought up the Bos­ton Celtics teams he bat­tled in the play­offs, both as a mem­ber of Cleve­land and Mi­ami, which fea­tured Ray Allen, Kevin Gar­nett, Paul Pierce, Ra­jon Rondo and head coach Doc Rivers.

Cleve­land may be the reign­ing cham­pi­ons af­ter hav­ing beaten Golden State in last year’s Fi­nals and are 12-1 this post­sea­son but are un­der­dogs against a topseeded War­riors team sport­ing an un­blem­ished play­off record.

But James is al­ways up for a chal­lenge and should never be ruled out. Last year he car­ried his team back from the brink as the Cavs be­came the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven NBA Fi­nals and win the ti­tle.

Af­ter Golden State failed to re­peat as cham­pi­ons fol­low­ing a cam­paign in which they had a record 73 wins dur­ing the 82game reg­u­lar sea­son, they ac­quired Du­rant, by far the big­gest prize of the free agent mar­ket.

James knows he will have his hands full when the se­ries opens on Thurs­day in Oak­land but said he likes his team’s chances of pulling off what Las Ve­gas would con­sider an up­set.

“Those guys are go­ing to chal­lenge me, they are go­ing to chal­lenge our ball­club,” said James, who last week sur­passed Michael Jor­dan as the all-time play­off lead­ing scorer.

“This is a high pow­ered team ... it’s go­ing to be very chal­leng­ing not only on me men­tally but on our ball­cub and on our fran­chise.” Reuters

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