The Golden State Warriors aren’t scared of the mighty LeBron James anymore. Their MVPs have the physical and mental edge over him.
The Golden State Warriors‘ rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers is slowly starting to dissolve. Like the Dubs’ relationship with the Los Angeles Clippers, the matchups between Golden State and Cleveland have become one-sided. Some of the excitement has died down because, more often than not, the Warriors are going to win pretty easily.
LeBron James has been the game’s most feared player for more than a decade. Smart teams avoided saying or doing something that would force him to unleash on them. James’ teams won games before they even started, simply by having the mental advantage.
For 28 teams, James is still that guy. If we’re to believe certain rumblings coming out of Northeast Ohio, it might be 29 times, due to the reported unhappiness from James’ teammates caused by his play and “agenda.” The Golden State Warriors are not one of those teams.
James was able to defeat the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals by capitalizing on Stephen Curry‘s knee injury and Draymond Green‘s emotions. He blocked a player he towered over and then turned to talk trash to him. He baited Green into an emotional outburst then used that to leverage a suspension.
The King took back his throne by force, mounting a comeback and accomplishing an unbelievable and unprecedented feat. That was then. James is no longer a superhuman to the Warriors.
In fact, it’s hard not to believe that the Cleveland superstar is actually scared of the Warriors. He let Richard Jefferson defend Kevin Durant in last year’s Finals and has now tasked Jae Crowder with that role. He wants no part of that matchup while Durant wants it every single time.
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James seeks Curry out nearly every time when the Cavaliers are on offense. He has a significant size advantage and could bully him down low. Furthermore, James would have an opportunity to exploit and expose the individual who has taken two championships and the basketball community’s heart away from him.
But James wants no part of Curry on the other end of the floor unless he can get a chasedown block. Time and time again, we’ve watched the two-time MVP dance on the Cavs’ leader and make him look foolish. James is no match for Curry on the perimeter and so he avoids that situation at all costs now, a far cry from when James famously defended Tony Parker in the NBA Finals.
Curry and Durant attack him every single time he gets switched out onto them and we get some amazing plays. Like Curry crossing him over and hitting the stepback three-pointer or Durant’s thunderous dunk over him in transition. Green pointed to his head after fooling James on a play, with a smile that said: “I got you.” They’re not afraid to take it right at him.
Just look at this clip right here.
The Warriors are comfortable playing LeBron James, regardless of who is on his team. When the Dubs faced him in 2015 without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, there was still a level of fear there. That is completely gone.
Curry and Durant are leaving James in the dust. With every victory, they grow stronger and he goes in the other direction. The big, bad wolf has met his match.
James is a phenomenal player and one of the best to ever step onto a court. These Warriors collectively and individually are better. And everyone knows it.
Golden State is content with letting James put up gaudy numbers like he always does. They just cut everyone else off and then bait him into costly mistakes. The psychological warfare is haunting for James.
When James goes to the media, expressing that he’s content with losing in the Finals at this point, it just makes the Warriors more powerful. When he’s doing twice as much work offensively to do what Curry and Durant do easily, it’s a sign that they’re doing it right. When he avoids matching up with the other team’s deadliest weapons, it’s a sign that he’s afraid of them.
The Warriors have the mental advantage over James and their respect for his team is lessening quickly. They are the only team who isn’t afraid of him and, in fact, would probably welcome a playoff series against them. The once-mighty King has lost his crown and must now go through the NBA season knowing that his annual slaying at the hands of the high-powered dragons awaits him in June.