Thursday, June 4, 2015

Self: LeBron on fire, but ‘I’ll take Warriors’

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


The Golden State Warriors enter the 2015 NBA Finals as heavy favorites to conquer the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lest gamblers be tempted to bet their entire bank accounts on Stephen Curry’s Western Conference champs, they might be reminded four-time MVP, two-time NBA champion LeBron James is healthy and raring to go for the Eastern Conference champion Cavs.

“You know what ... I thought the Warriors would be a slam dunk up until watching LeBron play (of late),” Kansas University coach Bill Self said after the Cavs won the last three games of their semifinal series against Chicago and then four straight in the conference finals vs. Atlanta. “He’s doing this without Kyrie (Irving, injured, questionable for tonight’s opener) and obviously without Love (Kevin, injured, out).

“(The Warriors’ Klay) Thompson is coming into his own. I’ll take the Warriors, because four out of seven games ... all it takes is those two guys (Curry, Thompson) getting hot on the same night. Klay has played OK. He hasn’t gotten on fire. He kind of did the other day against the Rockets (he had games of 20, 24, 17, 13 and 15 in conference finals). When those two are playing well ... I don’t think anybody is going to beat the Warriors this year,” Self added.

Golden State went 67-15 in the regular season and is 12-3 in the playoffs; Cleveland went 53-29 in the regular season and has a 12-2 postseason mark.

The Warriors, led by 2015 MVP Curry, are 46-3 at home entering tonight’s Finals opener in California.

“We can talk about a different player every year being the best player that year. Everybody knows LeBron is still the best player in the world,” Self said. “It was not fair to Durant (Kevin, Oklahoma City) last year. Durant won MVP, but everybody recognized LeBron as the best player in the world. That is true. To me, Durant is one guy you could say could challenge. The biggest thing LeBron does, even at that level, is he’s a man playing against boys. You don’t see often a 6-8, 270-pound man could move like that and physically be that dominant.”

Of course, KU knows all about Golden State’s Curry.

He scored 25 points off 9-of-25 shooting (4-of-16 from three) in KU’s 59-57 victory over Davidson in the 2008 Elite Eight. KU survived a final Davidson possession — one in which Jason Richards, not Curry, took and missed the last shot, a three that could have defeated the Jayhawks, who went on to win the NCAA title.

“We got lucky,” Self said. “He was on an unbelievable roll. He’s on an unbelievable roll now. On the collegiate level, he was on a comparable roll. Brandon Rush was guarding him on the last possession. He (Rush) fell down. I think Rio (Mario Chalmers) switched to him, Sherron (Collins) switched to him. He really didn’t have a shot to get a look off, fortunately for us, because he’s the best there is with the exception of J.R. Smith of making bad shots. I’m just glad he didn’t take that last shot, because after seeing him play since then, if he could taken it, he would have made it. It worked out well for us.”

Curry has made 73 threes this postseason. The old record was 58 by Reggie Miller in the 2000 postseason.

“He (Curry) is going to make 90 threes. He’s already broken the record by 15 so far,” Self said. “Pencil in he makes five threes a game. That’s unbelievable, because teams are trying to defend it. He’s in ridiculously great shape. He knows how to take advantage of the defense when the defense turns its head. He is in perpetual motion. He can get it off the bounce. I’ve never seen a guy lull you to sleep, then (hit the shot). It’s amazing watching him play.”


Mike Riches 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree it's absolutely amazing to watch Steph Curry play. The Warriors play as fluid of a game as I've ever seen. For a team that the closest KU connection is, "their guy didn't beat us in college", they've made a fan out of me.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

Love the name lol.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Awwwww

Thank you whoever you are, you rekindled my passion to keep posting knowing that folks like you read what I say and more importantly like it enough to copy my name. This is Fantastic! Best news so far today! Blackhawks pulling out game one was yesterdays!

Because of you I will not only keep posting, but knowing you are out there noticing me, I will double my efforts! More posts, more of the time. All because of you. Thank you!

Thanks fellow Rodney!

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 11 months ago

Who says he's imitating you? Maybe that's his name?

RJ King 6 years, 11 months ago

It's not exactly shameful to be behind Curry, Klay, Livingston, and Barbosa on the depth chart. The Warriors love Rush and welcomed him back after his second surgery.

Give the kid a break - he is a success by any definition of the word.

Jay Hawk 6 years, 11 months ago

Maybe watching the Warriors play will convince Coach that the Trifecta isn't exactly "fool's gold" all of the time :)

Tony Bandle 6 years, 11 months ago

A healthy Kyrie and Kevin would have turned the table but I am afraid trhe City Of Cleveland will have to wait another year for that elusive champoinship.

I actually lived a year in Parma, a suburb of Cleveland, way back when I was four years old. All I can remember was that the Polish bakeries were awesome...and the river was so polluted that it used to catch on fire, almost daily!!

RJ King 6 years, 11 months ago

It's been easy to fall in love with the Warriors, having been in the Bay Area for well over 30 years now. Of all the NBA teams, they have an amazing, passionate fan base that most closely resembles a college-like atmosphere.

Their fans have stuck with them through some miserable seasons, and miserable draft choices, (Mike Dunleavey, Todd Fuller, Joe Barry Carroll!!!) as well as enjoyed the fun of "Run TMC" (Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin.

This year's team plays with such chemistry, and the supporting cast of Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, David Lee are guys you want to root for. Real controversy when they fired Mark Jackson last year, but Steve Kerr put the blinders on and just set this group on fire. What fun!

Mick Allen 6 years, 11 months ago

Obviously the "trifecta is not Fool's Gold" if you have Steph Curry Jay, but there is only one Steph. I remember the "experts" believed he was too small and frail to be an impact player in the league. Amazingly quick release and can pull up and shoot the 3 off his cross over or his step back with the hand of a much taller opponent in his face. Tremendous "handles" and is constantly moving without the ball.Might have as good a touch as anyone who has played the game. Go Golden State. He is in fabulous shape.

RJ King 6 years, 11 months ago

You've no doubt seen the physics-based analysis of his shot. It's been on TV a few times.

Steph's shot creates a much higher arc (plus his quick release) which allows him to shoot over much taller players. And because of the trajectory of the ball - think long fly ball, versus a line drive - it opens up something like 33% more of the basket.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

If the Cav win this series, its possible, Lebron will be in rarefied air. I do think its the Warriors in 6 myself.

Jonathan Allison 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm thinking that Warriors in 5 is most likely. I don't care who wins, I just hope for game 7 and multiple overtime games.

RJ King 6 years, 11 months ago

Worth the watch: ESPN E:60 presents: Longshot: The Journey of Stephen Curry Video for ESPN "E:60 Steph Curry" 12:49 Vimeo

Mick Allen 6 years, 11 months ago

RJ, thanks for the heads up.I will watch it. The higher arc, opening up 33% more of the hoop is fascinating and makes sense mathematically.The Golden State fan base deserves a lot of credit as their loyalty has not been rewarded with an NBA crown since Rick Barry's days I believe in the 70s. I love the open up the court philosophy they implement. Their spacing and ball movement is a joy to watch. Coach Kerr has done an amazing job following a successful short run by Mark Jackson, whose firing I did not understand. Go Warriors.

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