Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Warriors Looking to Stay Unbeaten in 2017 Playoffs

Golden State struggled in close games this season, going 4-6 when the final score was within five points. "So we tried to do that early on and K.D. didn't settle". That alone should send a shiver down Golden State's steeled spine, one that was admittedly hardened by James leading the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit this time previous year. McGee and Clark enjoyed breakout years and it remains to be seen whether they'd also turn down big money elsewhere to remain with the Warriors.

After the Warriors had made only three 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 60-52 lead, Durant buried a 26-footer on Golden State's first possession of the third period. "I think everybody [on the two teams] knows each other pretty well", laughs Cleveland guard Iman Shumpert.

There is no denying the fact that the Cavaliers will only go as far as LeBron James will take them. 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). You are talking one of the best players in the game. Will the Warriors get revenge and bounce back after blowing a 3-1 series lead in last year's NBA Finals? Durant goes to Golden State searching for a title, and not only does he help deliver one, he's the difference maker, turning in a brilliant two-way performance that brings the trophy back to the Bay Area. For the defending champs to repeat, J.R. Smith must at least try to match Klay Thompson on both ends, and new additions like Deron Williams and Kyle Korver simply have to play their respective games, primarily hitting open shots on offense, and not being obvious liabilities on the defensive end. And against a very good Cleveland team.

Durant's presence also benefited Curry, who hit six 3-pointers on the way to a 28-point night.

Despite a regular season of frustration and underachievement the Cavaliers finally appear ready for the Warriors. Most players are lauded for being willing to take a discount to help a team improve while those seeking every penny they can grab have sometimes been portrayed as villains.

James joins Bill Russell (10 straight Finals appearances), Tommy Heinshohn (nine), K.C. Jones (eight), Sam Jones (nine), Frank Ramsey (eight) and Bob Cousey (seven) in that select group.

Beaten past year by Cleveland's historic comeback, the Warriors will try to avenge that defeat and get back on top when they face the Cavaliers again, the first time two teams have met three straight times in the NBA Finals.

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Pushing their record unbeaten playoff start to 13-0, the Warriors seized a 1-0 edge in the best-of-7 championship series, which continues Sunday in Oakland before shifting to Cleveland for games 3 and 4. Acting Warriors head coach Mike Brown has a lot on his shoulders but it's a chance for redemption after getting fired by the Cavaliers twice in 2010 and 2014.

Thompson could be seen being consoled as he came off the floor for the final time late in the game by teammates.

It's the reward of believing the regular season is meaningless and seeing the playoffs as a meaningless exercise, the possibility of this Finals being the best in recent National Basketball Association history.

"He's guarded some tremendous, tremendous point guards", Brown continued. "Whatever gets you going".

Curry had a game-high 10 assists, and Durant accumulated eight rebounds and eight assists.

From the pettiness, to the arrogance, to the talent, and the constant need to one-up each other, these two teams deserve each other.

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