When the 2017 NBA Finals tip off on June 1, many will be watching the matchup between Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James and Kevin Durant, his Golden State Warriors counterpart.
However, another intriguing matchup will be happening at the point guard position, where Golden State's Stephen Curry and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving will go head-to-head.
Curry has two MVP awards under his belt, but Irving has bragging rights, as his shot over Curry in Game 7 of last year's Finals was the dagger that buried the Warriors.
However, Irving isn't looking forward to the rematch, telling FearTheSword.com that he will have his hands full with Curry at both ends of the court:
“From an individual standpoint, with me guarding him, it’s going to be a ... challenge. Chasing him around all those dang screens - Steph does a great job of just sacrificing himself as well as getting guys open shots, but also knocking down some tough shots,” Irving said. “You’ve got to challenge him on both ends of the floor. Just make it tough for him as much as possible.”
Curry is averaging 28.6 points per game this postseason as the Warriors have swept all three of their opponents en route to an unblemished 12-0 mark thus far. Meanwhile, Irving is averaging 24.5 points per game as the Cavaliers have put up an impressive 12-1 record during the playoffs.
No matter the challenges associated with facing Curry, Irving said he's excited to be in his third-straight Finals and wants to put on a great show for NBA fans:
“This is what everyone wants to see and this is what we all want to be a part of,” Irving said after Monday’s practice. “I’ve been waiting. We had the regular season, we had the playoffs, been tested - both teams - and now we just meet at the top of the mountain. It’s a duel for one successor, one failure. And I can live with those odds.”
Irving lives for big-time moments like this, as he has come through time after time when the game is on the line for the Cavs.
In fact, the Warriors would be wise to switch someone other than Curry onto Irving in late-game situations, as Irving has proven that he can hit the big shot no matter how bad of a look he gets.
Though LeBron is always a threat and is one of the best players ever to play the game, the Warriors might want to consider letting him have the ball with the game on the line instead of putting it in Kyrie's hands.