Cavs plot to slow Warriors in NBA Finals rematch

Tom Withers
Associated Press

Independence, Ohio — LeBron James has already felt the stinging spray from the Splash Brothers in the NBA Finals.

When league MVP Stephen Curry and trigger-happy Golden State teammate Klay Thompson are knocking down 3-pointers from 30 feet, swishing contested jumpers over taller players and destroying defenses designed to stop them, the only option is pray they miss.

“Some of those shots,” James said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”

As the Cavaliers, considerably healthier than they were a year ago, prepare to take on the 73-win Warriors in the finals again, they know their chances of ending Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought hinge on how well they defend Curry, Thompson & Co.

Stopping the Warriors is impossible. Slowing them isn’t.

“They shoot the ball extremely well,” James said before the team left for California and Game 1 on Thursday. “Klay and Steph are probably the two greatest shooters that we’ve probably ever seen. Better offense beats great defense any day. So we have to be able to do other things to stop them, but it’s hard to contain them.”

Although they won’t admit it publicly, the Cavs have been eyeing a rematch with the Warriors since losing to them in six games last year.

James back then was virtually on his own after Kevin Love separated his left shoulder in the first round and Kyrie Irving shattered his left kneecap in Game 1 of the finals. James did everything possible, averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists — but it wasn’t enough. The Warriors had too much ball movement, athleticism and depth.

While fans, the league office and TV executives clamored for a Curry-James rematch, the Cavs claim they were ready for any opponent.

“It didn’t matter,” said James, appearing in his sixth straight finals. “Like Coach (Tyronn) Lue said, we’re just waiting on the winner. We’re fortunate to be here and we look forward to the challenge.

“It’s an unbelievable team that we’re going against.

“Hats off.”

NBA Finals

Cleveland vs. Golden State

All games on ABC; Games 5-7 if necessary.

Game 1: Thursday at Golden State, 9 p.m.

Game 2: Sunday at Golden State, 8 p.m.

Game 3: Wednesday, June 8 at Cleveland, 9 p.m.

Game 4: Friday, June 10 at Cleveland, 9 p.m.

Game 5: Monday, June 13 at Golden State, 9 p.m.

Game 6: Thursday, June 16 at Cleveland, 9 p.m.

Game 7: Sunday, June 19 at Golden State, 8 p.m.