Durant had 23 points and six assists in the first half, outdueling LeBron James, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds and the highlight of the half: a poster dunk over JaVale McGee. He may not be out there long if the Warriors decide they need more mobility against Thompson, who is almost averaging a double-double and shooting 60 percent while creating plenty of extra possessions with his offensive rebounding for the Cavaliers. The Warriors will find the hot hand and get plenty of open looks against Cleveland tonight.
Having been held scoreless over the final 4:39 of the decisive Game 7 a year ago, the Warriors made the biggest splash of the National Basketball Association offseason when they signed high-scoring Kevin Durant in free agency. Cleveland rang up 116.3 points per game against Boston, led by 29.3 per game from LeBron James. And that might be just the opening Curry needs to shine brightest again on the big stage after the struggles past year, when he shot just 40 percent in the Finals and had more turnovers (30) than assists (26).
Not that anyone expected any different.
A month later, Steph was stepping back again as the Warriors welcomed Kevin Durant to their star-studded roster.
"He's one of the most risky guys we have in the (basketball) world already so it makes it even more unsafe when you equip that talent, that skill, with those guys", James said of Durant joining such stars as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
"All I care about is how well we work together and how much of a team we play together", he said. Curry and Draymond Green each connected on one in a 13-1 run that created a 93-69 lead in the final seconds of the period. This one being the rubber match, if you will. 2015 saw the Warriors win their first title in 40 years. Also, he was asked during his group session with reporters if he still tries to prove doubters wrong - the Warriors are heavily favored in the series - and he said "no, I'm not in that department anymore". "If I don't play up to my standards, that's when I get upset". "I don't know. Ultimately I don't think I can worry about that". "My motivation is to be great, put my teammates in a position where they can compete for a championship, live out dreams".
He left the Oklahoma City Thunder to get his ring, joining a Warriors team that finished 73-9 past year, before blowing a 3-1 lead in the finals to LeBron & Co.
That series turned when Green was suspended for Game 5 and James and Kyrie Irving took over from there. "But at the end of the day winning a championship is winning a championship". However, this is a situation that Cleveland has found themselves in before, specifically previous year.
Cleveland went just 23-23 after January 10 and was ranked in the bottom third statistically on defense all season. His coach that year was Mike Brown, who has served as acting coach for the Warriors while Steve Kerr is out following complications from back surgery.
While James has won just three of the seven Finals he has been a part of, what has that meant for bettors?
"We've gotten better, a little more versatile offensively, more versatile defensively" says Lue.
He referenced Emmett Till, who was lynched in MS in 1955 for whistling at a white woman, and added: "No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough". That's not as easy as Las Vegas thinks it is. Now with Durant, James calls them a juggernaut.
So now Golden State-Cleveland extends to a trilogy in what is becoming a great post-season rivalry.
That said, let's not take for granted what we have seen so far: two of the best teams of the new century playing at such a high level that we shouldn't take this outstanding display of basketball for granted. He has hit just 38 percent of his shots as his normally reliable jumper has failed him. "I don't feel like we're underdogs". Obviously shots are falling.
Could LeBron win a Game 7 at Oracle Arena? They would win three straight games to upset the Warriors for the title - the first for the Cavs and the first for the city of Cleveland in 52 years.