Andre Ward gives shout out to Raiders after title bout

Photo via USA Today Sports Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Andre Ward, well-renowned boxer and Oakland Raiders fan, beat Sergey Kovalev in Las Vegas on Saturday in an eight-round technical knockout to improve his record to 32-0.

The victory helped Ward preserve his three light heavyweight titles and his unblemished record.

While exiting the ring, Ward gave a shout out to his beloved team, as he was born and raised in the city of Oakland, via the Raiders’ official Twitter account.

The Oakland native has gained quite the local following as Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant were all in attendance at Las Vegas’s Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Recently, Oakland players have been spending a lot of time around legendary players and organizations, for they spent plenty of time at Warrior games during their historic run and now they watched Ward this weekend.

As such, the Raiders know what greatness looks like. With the right pieces finally in place, Oakland has a great shot to make history this season in the Bay Area.

Stephen Curry Just Added Another Chapter to his Finals Legacy

The last time we saw Stephen Curry in the NBA Finals, he had a bad performance, to say the least. The unanimous MVP didn’t lead his team to the promise land.

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Photo via Erza Shaw/Getty Images

He did not by any means have a bad series, but he had a bad series based on the fact he was the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.

He averaged 22.6 points per game, along with 3.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. The assists were lower than Curry would have liked and he shot just 40.3 percent from the field.

After the Warriors lead was up to 3-1, Stephen Curry shot a combined 22-60 from the field (36.7 percent). In Game 7  of the 2016 NBA Finals, he shot just 4-14 from 3-point range, he had four turnovers and one crucial one, where he attempted a behind-the-back pass to Klay Thompson with the Warriors leading the Cavaliers 85-83 with 5:16 to play in the fourth quarter.

Stephen Curry wasn’t 100 percent healthy in the 2016 Finals, for he had injured his knee in the first round of the playoffs against the Houston Rockets that kept him out four games. He also had a large bruise on his shooting elbow that he suffered in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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I’m of the opinion, if you’re out there, you’re playing with whatever you have. There are no excuses to be made, and to his credit, Stephen Curry didn’t ever complain.

He had a tough 2016 NBA Finals against one of the greatest players of all-time in LeBron James. He didn’t perform the way he wanted to or the way he thought he should.

However, there is a pretty big misconception about Stephen Curry that he’s struggled in the Finals in both of the Warriors appearances in 2015 and 2016.

Prior to the 2017 Finals, there had been a lot of talk about if Curry would for the first time, not struggle in the NBA Finals.

Yes, he did struggle last year and that will always be true. But we must remember, in the 2015 NBA Finals, Curry averaged 26.0 points, 6.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.

He averaged more points in the 2015 Finals (26 per game) than he did during the regular season, when he won MVP averaging 23.8 points per game. Yes, he wasn’t the Finals MVP but he played a crucial role in the Warriors capturing their first title in 40 years.

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Photo via Getty Images

Rachel Nichols was asked the other day by anchor Kerry Chow on SportsCenter if Stephen Curry was rewriting his Finals legacy and she reminded him that in 2015 the Warriors won the championship. Curry didn’t struggle at all and he had a great series.

She stressed the point that the Warriors won and Curry’s stats were exceptional.

This year, Stephen Curry did exactly what Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told him to do at halftime of Game 2, play with passion and joy.

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Curry had a superb 2017 NBA Finals to cap off an excellent postseason in which he averaged 28.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game.

Curry was a part of history as the Warriors became the first Bay Area team since the A’s in 1974 to win a championship at home.

In Game 5, Curry’s three point shot simply wasn’t on. He wasn’t making difficult looks that spectators usually see him knock down. Instead of kind of bowing down and just fading away in the game, Curry took to the rim which allowed him to get to the free throw line where he made 12 of 15 free throws.

Curry showed in the elimination game that he’s much more than a mere three-point shooter. Despite shooting 2-9 from deep, he finished with 34 points.

In addition, he had 10 assists and 6 rebounds. He also made an impact defensively with two steals in Game 4 and three in Game 5.

Critics of Curry will point to his lackluster three-point shooting in the final two games of the series with the Cavaliers. Curry shot just 4-18 in those two combined games. But with his shooting struggles, he contributed in other ways as he had 10 assists in each games and a combined 11 rebounds in the two.

Curry’s critics will always talk about his arrogance, the fact that some think he’s just a three-point shooter, the fact that he’s only great because he has great players around him, but Curry doesn’t mind.

He just had the best NBA Finals of his life. 26.8 points, 9.4 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals per game.

He helped Kevin Durant get the title that long alluded him and he did it with a smile on his face.

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After Durant won the Bill Russell Finals MVP award, he talked about Curry’s perception:

“The stuff you hear about Steph as far as sacrificing and being selfless and caring about his teammates, caring about other people is real,” Durant said after game five. “It’s not a facade. He doesn’t put on this mask or suit every single day. He really is like that. And it’s amazing to see a superstar who sacrifices, who doesn’t care about anything but the group.”

It’s amazing to hear from one of the game’s greatest superstars that he’s never seen a superstar like Curry. He said he’s never seen a superstar want to sacrifice for his teammates the way Curry does.

Yes, Curry didn’t win Finals MVP and he hasn’t in either of his two Finals victories, but that doesn’t mean what he did in these finals wasn’t amazing.

So Curry had a good but not great Finals in 2015. He had a bad one in 2016. In 2017, he had a spectacular Finals. Argue that all you want, but his numbers (26.8 points, 9.4 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals per game) are absolutely undeniable.

Raiders’ Marquette King pokes fun at Steph Curry’s kicking form

Photo via Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Oakland Raiders punter Marquette King never shies away from discussing punting, especially via social media. This time, he jokingly gave tips to Golden State Warriors all-star guard Stephen Curry’s punting technique.

The photo King is referencing is of Curry running down the floor kicking in celebration following a momentum-changing three-pointer in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals.

King better be careful giving tips to Curry as he has been known to prove everyone wrong. Maybe Curry’s next transcendent move will involve him becoming an NFL punter and taking King’s job.

One can dream, but in regards to Raiders’ football, any contact with Golden State is good. Hopefully, the Warriors’ winning ways can rub off on Oakland and result in this year’s Super Bowl trophy coming to the East Bay.

 

Durant’s basketball shouldn’t surprise us, his unselfishness should

Photo via AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Kevin Durant isn’t just going to be the difference in the Warriors winning this year’s title, he’s going to allow them to compete for the next five.

On Thursday morning, it was reported, via ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne and Chris Haynes, that Durant may be willing to accept less than the maximum contract possible in order to retain the core of the Warriors’ team.

First off, let’s think about this in a basketball perspective.

If Durant allows for the Warriors to potentially resign the 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, this superteam has the ability to remain one for a long time.

Warriors all-star guard Stephen Curry is only 29. After the NBA Finals conclude, Curry will sign a five-year “ultra-max” contract and will be locked into Golden State’s plans for another five years at least.

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are just 27 years old. Thompson is under contract until 2019 when he will become an unrestricted free agent. Green is under contract until 2020 when he will also become an unrestricted free agent.

Green is in his prime now but will be able to play this high-level basketball where he gets his team involved and rattles opponents for many years to come. Thompson can get even better at some aspects of his game, for he can become more consistent shooting and play with the competitiveness on defense that lets him be a lockdown defender whenever he sets his mind to it.

You can bet that GM Bob Myers and the entire Warriors front office is going to do whatever it takes to keep these stars together for at the very least the next five years

Think about that, if these four players remain together for the next five years, this team will contend for Larry O’Brien trophies each year.

Outside of the Big Four, the Warriors of the last three years have gotten so much out of backup point guard Shaun Livingston and the leader of the second unit, Andre Iguodala.

The importance of these players cannot be undervalued.

Iguodala, a former all-star and NBA Finals MVP in 2015 can do anything the Warriors ask of him. He has not only shown that he will do whatever it takes on the court to win, he even listened to coach Steve Kerr when Kerr was hired in 2015 and decided to take Iguodala out of the starting lineup and bring him in off the bench.

Iguodala is a very smart player. He can shoot the three, drive to the rim and throw down a monstrous dunk, but more importantly he can be the most important defender the Warriors have.

In the past three years, Andre Iguodala has had one huge task to accomplish in the Finals with all others paling in comparison. That task: Shutting down the greatest player that plays today, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.

When the Warriors captured their first title in 40 years in 2015, Iguodala won Finals MVP because he came into the starting lineup and not only scored, he shut down James.

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Photo via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In that 2015 series when James was guarded by Iguodala, he shot just 33 percent from the field. In addition, Iguodala contested 85 percent of James shots and when he was contesting James, the King shot 11-46 to accumulate a percentage of 24 from the field.

In 2016, James was too unstoppable for even Iguodala to do more than hinder his amazing stats which finished at 29.7 points per game, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. To quote Rihanna “the King is the King.”

Okay, we get that. James is in the conversation of the greatest player to ever play basketball. No player is going to be able to completely stop him. But Iguodala does as well as anybody in the league.

Last night, LeBron James had pretty great stats but he didn’t have a great game. He finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists but it didn’t matter. He turned the ball over seven times. Seven. That’s three more than the Warriors entire team.

Iguodala looked so comfortable guarding James last night. He is so well-versed in what the King is going to do when he starts to isolate. James will back down until he gets at the rim and either throw up a tough-contested layup or try to make some amazing pass that leads to an open shot. Iguodala knows this.

For the Warriors to be able to contend with LeBron James for the next five years, they will need a defender like Iguodala who can make James work as hard as he possibly can for every single basket.

Golden State Warriors against the Utah Jazz
Photo via Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

Shaun Livingston is a 6’7” backup point guard and a key member of the Warriors second unit. Livingston has the size and strength to back down any other backup point guard and shoot a fadeaway jump shot right over the top of whoever is defending him.

He doesn’t just shoot those shots, he makes them. He shot 54.9 percent from the field this year and with his height plays good, physical defense. He is a smart player and he has been a clear key to the Warriors success coming off the bench in the past three seasons.

There has been talk this season about the fact that this Warriors team will almost definitely lose out on at least one of these players after this season because they need to re-sign Durant and Curry to max contracts.

The Warriors would not be able to re-sign both Livingston and Iguodala without Durant or Curry accepting less than their maximum salary.

But then the report came out that Kevin Durant may accept less money to keep both players with the team. This should scare everyone not named the Golden State Warriors. If Shelbourne and Hayne’s report is correct and Durant is going to allow for Myers to keep the core of this team together for years, this team could easily win a handful of championships.

Let’s look at this from a human perspective though.

If Durant does decide to do this, it will be the first time a superstar decides to take less money to not gain another superstar but to retain the bench.

We saw Wade take less money to bring LeBron and Bosh to Miami but the NBA has never seen a player of Durant’s level decide that the players on his team are just as important to him as money.

Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players in the NBA and will go down as an all-time great. A seven-footer who can score, rebound and run the floor the way he can is a sight in itself, but what’s more remarkable at this moment is his selflessness.

With this move, Durant would be acknowledging that the Warriors not only need Iguodala and Livingston but that he cares enough to make it happen.

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Photo via Getty Images

Kevin Durant is absolutely thriving in the NBA Finals and, after Game 1, is the most likely player to be the 2017 Finals MVP if the Warriors win their second championship in three years.

Durant made the right decision joining the Warriors and now he’s going to get to smile and hold the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time.

But I challenge basketball fans to not only admire his basketball talent but to look toward his unselfishness and the way he has fun with his team. He looks like a 10-year-old who just realized his favorite thing to do was play basketball.

He wants to keep playing with his friends and alongside another amazingly unselfish superstar, Steph Curry.

4 similarities between Raiders QB Derek Carr, Warriors PG Steph Curry

Photo via Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is getting ready to play in the 2017 NBA Finals as we speak. This is his third straight NBA Finals and he has become a transcendent figure in the NBA and in basketball.

Interestingly enough, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr seems to be headed down a similar path as his fellow Bay Area star in Curry, but beyond career arcs, there are many ways these two terrific athletes are similar.

As such, there are four more reasons why Curry and Carr are more similar than you think.

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Photo via Jeff Siner MCT

No. 4, Not expected to be great pro players

Both Curry and Carr were great college players who had jaw-dropping statistics and performances but were from less notable division one programs resulting in their draft stock to drop.

For example, Carr played in a spread and air raid offense at Fresno State. He never took the ball from under center and passed the majority of plays against inferior competition from the Mountain West Conference.

Many people thought his stats were inflated due to the style of offense and the second-tier college competition. In addition, people were scared to draft him because of his older brother, former Houston Texans quarterback David Carr (Curry also has a brother in the NBA, Seth Curry).

In regards to Curry, he was a great college player who led his small college, the Davidson Wildcats, to a shocking March Madness run in 2008. Curry even averaged 25.9 and 28.6 points per game in his last two seasons in college, yet was disrespected by NBA scouts.

Many of those scouts saw him as a tweener. He was considered too small to play shooting guard and didn’t have the skillset to be a true point guard. People loved his shooting ability, but thought his lack of athleticism would hinder his NBA career.

Just like Carr, Curry proved all the scouts wrong and has since won two league MVPs and has led his team to three straight NBA Finals whereas Carr has only been in the league three seasons but he is close to winning an MVP and will have his team in a Super Bowl sooner rather than later.

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2017 NBA Finals preview: LeBron’s historic run not enough for Cavaliers to get by Warriors

Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NBA Finals tip-off tonight at 6 PM (PT). It will be the beginning of the third leg of this great rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. As everyone knows, Golden State took the first NBA Finals meeting in 2015, but blew the infamous 3-1 lead to Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals.

This year, the finals will have a greater impact than any other in recent memory. For example, the winner gets all the glory as they will be considered the better team during this era by winning two out of three finals.

Warriors forward Kevin Durant needs to win to vindicate his move to the Bay Area. However, a loss will be very harmful for his legacy as everyone will wonder how he couldn’t win with Curry, Green, and Thompson by his side.

Lastly, LeBron James has the opportunity to put himself in a conversation with legendary Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan with a series victory. A loss will probably end any conversation revolving Jordan and James, yet a win will keep him on pace to contend with Jordan as the best ever. Doesn’t mean he will get there, but 10 straight finals appearances and six titles would put him close to Jordan.

Below is our prediction of the 2017 NBA Finals which will answer how each great’s legacy will be altered after the next few weeks.

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Game 1: Golden State

With the long layoff before the game, the advantage lies with the veteran Cavaliers team. In addition, the Warriors have shown to lose their focus through stretches and there is a worry that a long layoff could further the lackadaisical approach. However, Golden State’s loss from last year will keep them highly motivated. Warriors forward Draymond Green will not let his team lapse focus for any period of time, for this series is personal to Green after he was suspended for Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals.

The Warriors are at home and have more talent than Cleveland, with four great players versus the Cavaliers’ three. The only way Cleveland can snatch one away from their home court is with a legendary performance from James or Irving.

Nonetheless, Golden State will come out with a fiery motivation, shoot well from the field early, and close out a late victory.

112-108

Game 2: Cleveland

After losing Game 1, LeBron understands the gravity of the second game. A loss, most likely, will result in another finals’ series loss for James. Nonetheless, he has learned to have a killer instinct and will have a monster Game 2 carrying the team to victory. He will score close to 40 points with a triple-double and his side-kick Irving will hit clutch shots late to seal the deal.

111-105

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(Way-to-early preview of Game 3 and on, next page)

Misconception: Warriors and Cavs make NBA playoffs less exciting

 

Written by Rob Werner
Photo via ESPN Images

There has been a steady dose of complaining about the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Many are saying the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are making the playoffs too predictable.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith along with many fans and sports reporters have complained that the success of Golden State and Cleveland have made it a forgone conclusion that those two teams are headed to the NBA Finals for the third season in a row making the playoffs less exciting.

However, that is false.

The Warriors and Cavaliers are making the Playoffs more exciting, not less. The idea that two amazingly well-built teams with some of the NBA’s best players could meet for a third straight year on basketball’s biggest stage should have everyone salivating in excitement.

First off, there were some great series in the Playoffs starting in the first round.

The two biggest MVP candidates, James Harden and Russell Westbrook squared off in a thrilling series in which the Beard took the glory, helping the Rockets beat down the Thunder in five games.

The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers met up in the first round and had a hard-fought series that went to a full seven games. The Jazz led by Gordon Hayward won a game seven on the road stunning Los Angeles.

The Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs slugged it out in a series that featured fantastic defense by Tony Allen and Kawhi Leonard. It also produced exciting front court matchups with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol battling against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

In the East, the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls played a physical first-round series that resulted in the Celtics winning four straight games after losing the first two.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors series was highly-competitive with Toronto winning in six games.

The Atlanta Hawks gave John Wall and the Wizards a tough first test in the first round.

Even the Pacers gave LeBron James a few tough games as the seven seed in Round 1 of the Playoffs.

The first round of the Playoffs was exciting series by series.

The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards just wrapped up a fantastic seven-game series that looked like it could go either way.

Within the series fans saw two of the NBA’s best point guards face off as John Wall and Isaiah Thomas played some great basketball in the seven-game series.

John Wall saved the Wizards from elimination in Game 6 with a clutch go-ahead three-pointer to give his team a chance to win a Game 7 in Boston at the TD Garden.

Game 7 was a thriller coming down to the final minutes as Kelly Olynyk was the hero for the Celtics scoring 12 points in a three and a half-minute period of the fourth quarter to finish with 26 overall in the game.

While the Rockets and James Harden looked horrible in Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs, the series was competitive with the Rockets forcing the Spurs to play some great basketball to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

The Spurs and Warriors will be an entertaining matchup as long as Greg Popovich is the head coach of San Antonio because he has had the Warriors number over the majority of his career.

Yes, losing Kawhi in Game 1 over a questionable foul by Zaza Pachulia is not what the NBA fans wanted, but the highly intelligent and defensive-minded Spurs against the offensive juggernaut that is the Warriors should entertain any NBA fan.

The Celtics and the Cavs will be exciting. Watching Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics use the grit that has gotten them to this point will at least force LeBron James and the rest of Cavaliers to play a very high level of basketball.

So, yes, it looks like it will most likely be Golden State and Cleveland facing off with a chance to win the Larry O’Brien trophy for the third time in as many years, but what’s wrong with that?

NBA fans are saying that there is no point of watching the other series when it’s so obvious that the Dubs and Cavs are on a collision-course that will see them meet in a third straight NBA Finals.

What is possibly boring about seeing a trilogy of two all-time great teams battling for a second title in three seasons?

NBA fans should want to see history unfold in the shape of two all-time great teams battling yet again, driving this rivalry further.

The discussion about if LeBron James is the greatest player in the history of the NBA is rising and rising and if he could take down a superteam like Golden State, it seems that many people would crown the King and say he has passed Michael Jordan as the greatest of all-time.

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Photo via The Australian

 

Stephen Curry and Co. are looking for redemption after failing to win last year’s championship after having the greatest regular season in NBA history.

Kevin Durant would get to face off against the King! KD, who it seems like everyone called out for trying to chase a ring and hopping on the Golden State bandwagon, would get to try to win the title that has long eluded him.

Kyrie against Steph another time would be about as exciting a point guard matchup as any in the NBA today.

Listen to Fox Sport’s Colin Cowherd talk about why the Warriors and Cavs would not be bad for the NBA at all, but rather very good.

If the Warriors and Cavaliers meet in the NBA Finals for a third straight year, it will be history.

NBA fans shouldn’t be unhappy or be complaining about the predictable NBA Finals matchup. It will be the most exciting and anticipated basketball played this whole season and there isn’t anyone who should be complaining that it will be the Warriors and Cavs once again.

 

Rob Werner is a contributing writer for The JR Report. For more news follow him on twitter @robwerner28. Continue reading “Misconception: Warriors and Cavs make NBA playoffs less exciting”

The Golden State Warriors are back to championship form

Graphic via the NBA's website

The Golden State Warriors have now won five straight games.

They initially struggled after forward Kevin Durant went out with a knee injury going 2-5 in the first seven games without Durant.

Now, the Warriors are playing the basketball they did last year when they went 73-9. Stephen Curry is back in MVP form, Klay Thompson is shooting lights out and, most importantly, Golden State is blowing teams out. The games are over before the second half, just like most were last season.

Without Durant, the Warriors have found their flow. The undeniable swagger they had last seasons seems to be back. Even the bench, who is ranked third in the NBA in the last five games as opposed to 15th for the entire year, is playing with immense confidence again. The bench, confidence and Steph Curry are what made the Warriors special last season.

This season, all three of those aspects of the Warriors are easily worse. The lack of a bench makes sense because they gave up Barnes, Bogut, Barbosa, and Ezeli for Durant. People thought Durant would make up for the lack of a bench. However, no one saw the dramatic decline of Curry, as discussed by Fox Sport’s Nick Wright, and the Warriors confidence.

Recently, Curry hasn’t been scoring more points, but he is shooting the three better and has become a more efficient basketball player. The points will come with more minutes, but since they are blowing teams out, his minutes are limited.

Klay Thompson has averaged 27 points per game in the last five up from his 22.3 average for the season. He is also shooting lights out, hitting over 50% of his threes in four of the five games with the one game still being a 7-15 shooting display from range.

Draymond Green is back to playing his type of basketball. He isn’t scoring a ton, but is rebounding and assisting his teammates and has been close to getting triple doubles in most of the last five games. He is also playing physical basketball, which is no coincident that his team just got in a fight with OKC last weekend and are playing good basketball.

The three main pieces to the Warriors have found their old form. I believe they were too busy trying to get Durant to fit into the team and they forgot about making sure they are playing well and with confidence. Durant was so great that he was able to make up for the lack of confidence in the team, but they were definitely not playing up to their potential.

Now, there is no doubt the Warriors have been worse with Durant. However, the rediscovered confidence could go a long way into making the Warriors into one of the greatest teams of all time again. If they can keep their confidence when Durant gets back, adding the second best player in the world to an extremely confident bunch will be scary for other teams in the NBA.

Lastly, Curry needs to know it is his team. He doesn’t need to sacrifice for Durant, rather Durant needs to sacrifice for him. Curry needs the ball in his hand and to be the guy so he can have that swagger. Once Curry and Golden State regain that swagger, they will undeniably be the NBA champions and a difficult force to stop for years to come.

Remember these guys before Durant, let’s see them again:

The NBA lacks parity at the top

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The NBA playoffs are unlike that of any other major American sport. At the beginning of each NBA season there is a consensus opinion of which teams will be in the finals, unlike

March Madness and the NFL.

There are obviously favorites in every sport, but I wouldn’t guarantee any one team’s appearance in the finals like I would the Warriors and the Cavs.

We have seen each of LeBron’s teams come out of the east and as of recently, the Warriors come out of the west, with the Spurs doing the same before them. In fact, since Orlando in 2009 there have been no real surprises to make it to the finals.

There are no Atlanta Falcon, Butler Bulldog, or VCU Shocker stories in the NBA; teams who are not normally title contenders that have one great season and make a legitimate run at a championship. The NBA over the past few years has had teams explode onto the scene like the Hawks, Pacers, Raptors, and Trail Blazers, yet none of these teams have had a realistic chance at winning it all. Every dynasty has to start at some point, but there just are not teams in the NBA who are good for only one playoff run or one season.

However, teams that explode onto the scene in the NFL have a realistic shot at winning the title. For example, Carolina, Atlanta, and the NY Giants are all teams who have either come close to winning or have won despite not ranking amongst the elite group of contenders like New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Denver and Seattle. Teams like Atlanta and NYG are rarely chosen, but have shown the ability to make a run at the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile in the NBA, how many times has a team won, or even made a trip to the Finals that wasn’t in the perennial conversation at the beginning of the year?

Orlando in 2009, that’s it. If you research the past NBA finals you will be pressed to find another team like Orlando until the Knicks in 1999, who were an no. 8 seed. The “cinderella” story simply doesn’t happen in the NBA, with only two exceptions in the past 18 years.

Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals. Lakers clinch their 15th title in an easy series over Orlando.

The NBA does a good job of having the best team in May and June later become the NBA champion, and while this rewards teams for their excellence, it makes for a lack of excitement during the regular season and early playoff rounds, because most of it doesn’t matter.

Playoff Differences

In the NFL, a team only has to win 3 or 4 games to become Super Bowl champions, yet in the NBA a team needs to win four series and 16 games. Therefore, it is far easier to be lucky in the NFL than it is in the NBA. For NBA teams, it has been an easy run for two or three teams that are considered “legit” title contenders while the rest have almost no shot to win it all.

In the NFL, it is much harder. Everyone has an idea of what will happen, but title aspirations can still come down to just one game, rather than the seven you see in the NBA. With a little luck, a team just has to be top six (or so) in the NFL to feel like they have a shot to win it all.

Just this past season all these NFL teams felt they had a realistic shot of winning the title:

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Atlanta Falcons

Oakland Raiders

(New York Giants) – a pick by many

NBA Title Contenders:

San Antonio Spurs

Golden State Warriors

Cleveland Cavaliers

“The NBA will have a Cavs/Warriors finals for the next four years.” -Colin Cowherd

The Reason Why

In the NBA, you need two or three stars to contend for a title. One draft pick can’t truly turn around an organization unless he is a top ten player of all time, like a Michael, LeBron or Kobe. Therefore, it is unlikely to see an organization be good for just one season because a team needs so much talent to be good that it is not just going to disappear the following season. Having one All-Star in the NBA will make a borderline playoff team without any realistic chance of winning the championship.

However in the NFL, one pro bowl caliber quarterback can immediately take a team to the Super Bowl. It is also possible for quarterbacks to have one incredible season, like Cam Newton two years ago and Matt Ryan last year. It can all depend on one player, so if they get injured or have a bad year the team can really suffer, making it harder to be a perennial contender for long stretches.