Pundits: ‘Golden State does not need to be perfect to beat Cavs’

Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson say twice reigning league MVP Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are so good that the Warriors will not unravel even if other players have an off night.

Stephen Curry has led the NBA in three-pointers made in every season since 2012-13.   -  AP

The Golden State Warriors team is so flush with talent it can unseat the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals even if it is not firing on all cylinders, TV pundits said on Tuesday.

Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson say twice reigning league MVP Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are so good that the Warriors will not unravel even if other players have an off night.

“Golden State has more margin of error so they can have guys maybe not shooting the ball particularly well because Curry and Durant are on such a roll that it may not matter,” former NBA coach Van Gundy said on a conference call.

“Cleveland ... are going to have to have all their guys shooting the ball well and playing efficiently.”

Golden State cruised into the NBA Finals opening in Oakland with an unprecedented 12-0 play-off record even though Klay Thompson has been far from his best and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala has struggled to make open shots.

Thompson, arguably the best shooter in the NBA after Curry, has missed 42 of his 66 attempts behind the arc this post-season but has contributed in other areas.

“Klay Thompson ... is still guarding the other team's best perimeter guy and getting the job done on the defensive end,” said former coach and player Jackson. “So he's finding ways to impact the game even when his shooting is not up to par.”

That is not a luxury the Cavs, who are powered by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, can afford if they hope to upset the Warriors.

Fortunately for the Cavaliers they are getting solid play from Kevin Love, who could be a difference maker.

“If Kevin Love plays the same way he's been playing in the play-offs ... that's another threat to add to LeBron and Kyrie,” said Jackson.

So good is Golden State, which has finished with the NBA's best record in each of the last three seasons and added four-times scoring champion Durant last off-season, that Van Gundy referred to the 2015 NBA champions as a “dynasty.”

“They have their youth, they have their health. I see nothing preventing them from going to eight to 10 straight Finals,” said Van Gundy. “It will be a massive upset, I think, if they are not there each and every year.”

STAR STATS

LeBron James (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), Kevin Durant (2014) and Stephen Curry (2015, 2016) have combined to win seven of the last eight MVP awards.

The Finals features seven 2017 All-Stars and 11 players who have been All-Stars in their career. The NBA hasn’t had a Finals with seven current All-Stars or 11 all-time All-Stars since 1983 (Lakers vs. 76ers).

Of the 16 active players with multiple 50-point games, five will be part of The Finals: LeBron James (10; most for active players), Stephen Curry (5), Kevin Durant (4), Kyrie Irving (2) and Klay Thompson (2).

Klay Thompson and Kevin Love own the top-scoring quarters in NBA history. Thompson set the record with a 37-point third quarter vs. Sacramento on Jan. 23, 2015. Love is second on the list with a 34-point first quarter vs. Portland on Nov. 23, 2016.

LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant at small forward, Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry at point guard and Kevin Love vs. Draymond Green at power forward are among the most compelling individual matchups in the game.

James and Durant met once before in The Finals, in 2012, when LeBron (28.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 7.4 apg in series) and the Miami Heat defeated KD (30.6 ppg in series) and the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. This was the first of James’ three NBA titles.

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