Lakers against the Golden State against or LeBron against Curry. We are back in 2015 and I am 13 years old again while in my second year of High School. I have to leave class early to go to practice and still have homework to do for the following day. When it comes to the NBA, I will have to check the results in the morning as my mother will not allow me to stay up late to watch it live.
It has been eight years since all of this happened and the stars of both teams are still the faces of the league. LeBron James is 38 years old and has won another ring since those four consecutive years in which it seemed like those finals matchups between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers would go on forever.
When it comes to Steph, he is the NBA’s reigning champion and has been the protagonist in game 7 of this year’s first round, displaying one of the best performances in the playoffs history.
On the one hand, there is the most iconic and recognizable franchise the NBA has ever had, the Los Angeles Lakers: led by the most important player of the 21st century and the main competitor Jordan has for the GOAT title.
On the other hand, we have the Warriors: probably the best team in NBA history and the current champions whose star is responsible for the recent shift in how the game is played. The old-timers, fans of the Lakers, against the new generation, fans of the Warriors.
This series will achieve this year’s largest screen share for the NBA, which has recently been criticized for their drop in viewers in the United States. I am sure NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, would have done anything for this matchup to happen. If it was up to him, the second-round clash would be a best of 15 and not a seven-game series.
What are each team’s strengths?
Golden State has an edge when it comes to the solid core they have built, which is fresh off a championship run and has made the finals every time they have made the playoffs.
In addition, we have never seen such a dominant version of Curry, not even during his unanimous regular season MVP campaign. However, his complementary pieces are not in their A-game with the exception of Kevon Looney, who took over the glass against Sacramento (with three games of 20+ rebounds).
The squad form the Bay must get their championship DNA back to help Curry on offense and, most importantly, become even tougher on defense. Chef Curry alone can carry you to a series win against almost anyone, but not LeBron James.
Despite ranking seventh in the west during the regular season and clinching a playoff spot via the play-in, a team led by King James and Anthony Davis can never be underestimated. AD is now the most important player on the team, especially due to his interior defense, which will pay dividends when it comes to denying easy baskets from the Warriors and will help nullify Kevon Looney and Draymond Green on offense.
There are not any doubts surrounding the performance of LeBron James, who always takes his game to another level when it matters the most. Even at 38 years old, he will most definitely remind us of why he terrorized the league in the past, making eight consecutive NBA finals appearances at one point in his career.
The determining factor for the Lakers lies in their role players’ exterior shooting consistency, as Hachimura is not a reliable threat (despite making his shots in the first round) and Reaves (a fan favorite) is their only elite shooter. D’Angelo will also have to leave his slumps behind and become much more consistent from behind the arc.
This matchup may not decide who wins it all, as the Celtics are still considered the favorites, but it will be a last dance to look back on when there is nothing more than memories left.
It will be the series that takes one of the stars to greater heights than the other in the mind of fans of the sport around the world. The Lakers have a one-game lead after winning the first match at the Oracle, but there is a lot left to play.
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2023. LeBron against Curry. As Julio Iglesias would say, “Life stays the same”.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: @Lakers.