War­riors to make claim as NBA’s best ever

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY BRIAN MA­HONEY

CLEVE­LAND | One vic­tory left for the Golden State War­riors to claim an­other ti­tle.

Not the one as NBA cham­pi­ons. The one as the best team ever.

Kevin Du­rant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the War­riors will be able to make that boast if they win Fri­day to com­plete the most im­pres­sive post­sea­son run in ma­jor sports his­tory.

They moved to the brink of that with a 118-113 vic­tory over the Cleve­land Cava­liers on Wed­nes­day in Game 3 of the NBA Fi­nals. The War­riors are 15-0 and can fin­ish off the NBA’s first per­fect post­sea­son with a vic­tory here in Game 4.

Com­bine that with last year’s 73win sea­son, and a sec­ond ti­tle in three years — which could have eas­ily been three con­sec­u­tive cham­pi­onships — and foun­da­tion of the case has been made.

The Cava­liers are no match for these War­riors, not even with ar­guably the best player on the planet in Le­Bron James. Golden State’s only com­pe­ti­tion is with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Michael Jor­dan and the Bulls, and other great teams from the past.

None won as dom­i­nantly as this team, which has four ver­sa­tile All-Stars — in­clud­ing two for­mer league MVPs — in their prime. These aptly named War­riors spent the last two months build­ing big leads, then Wed­nes­day wiped out a late deficit.

Some peo­ple may ar­gue their great­ness, but James won’t.

“It’s prob­a­bly the most, most fire­power I’ve played in my ca­reer,” James said. “I played against some great teams, but I don’t think no team has had this type of fire­power. So even when you’re play­ing well, you got to play like A-plus plus, be­cause they’re go­ing to make runs and they’re go­ing to make shots and they got guys that’s go­ing to make plays.”

The NBA’s best post­sea­son run is the 15-1 mark of the 2001 Lak­ers, while the 1983 Philadel­phia 76ers went 12-1. Jor­dan’s first ti­tle team in 1991 is one of three squads that went 15-2.

The War­riors thought they were

carv­ing out their place in his­tory when they set a record with 73 wins last sea­son. But his­tory turned to in­famy when they blew a 3-1 lead to the Cava­liers, the big­gest col­lapse in NBA Fi­nals his­tory.

They spoke openly of their de­sire to beat Jor­dan’s 72-win team in 1996, but this time have down­played the im­por­tance of 16-0.

“We ob­vi­ously know how hard it is to win a cham­pi­onship, what all goes into it and how im­por­tant each game is. And now that you can look ahead to Fri­day, all our fo­cus is on that,” Curry said. “And just we ob­vi­ously — we want 16 wins; it doesn’t mat­ter how we get there. But now that we’re in this sit­u­a­tion, why not take care of busi­ness and fin­ish the job?”

They were win­ning by 16.9 points per game through the pre­vi­ous 14, which would eas­ily be an­other NBA record. And when they fi­nally got a close one, they showed why their ros­ter is the envy of just about ev­ery other team, with the long-range shoot­ing of Du­rant, Curry and Klay Thompson, and the de­fen­sive wiz­ardry of Dray­mond Green and 2015 NBA Fi­nals MVP An­dre Iguo­dala.

That ros­ter would give these War­riors a chance against any great team from the past — and gives most of their op­po­nents no chance against them.

“They’re def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent team than they were last year that’s def­i­nitely in full ef­fect that we’re all fully aware of,” the Cavs’ Kyrie Irv­ing said.

That’s mostly be­cause of Du­rant, the for­mer NBA MVP who signed with the War­riors in July. Curry, win­ner of the last two MVP awards, is fully healthy af­ter strug­gling through last year’s Fi­nals.

Nei­ther will turn 30 un­til next year, while Thompson and Green are only 27. Should the War­riors stay healthy and to­gether — and it would cost them enor­mously in salaries and taxes — they should be a ti­tle threat ev­ery year.

They very eas­ily could be play­ing for a third straight cham­pi­onship. They look ready to play for many more.

“Just the com­bi­na­tion of of­fense and de­fense, the tal­ent that they’ve been able to amass, it puts them in po­si­tion where this is a dy­nasty to me,” ABC an­a­lyst Jeff Van Gundy said be­fore the NBA Fi­nals. “They have their youth, they have their health. I see noth­ing pre­vent­ing them from go­ing to eight to 10 straight Fi­nals. It will be a mas­sive up­set, I think, if they’re not there each and ev­ery year.”

The Golden State War­riors, be­hind for­ward Kevin Du­rant (35) and guard Stephen Curry, are 15-0 and can fin­ish off the NBA’s first per­fect post­sea­son with a win Fri­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.