Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James knows well what’s on the minds of Boston Celtics players, who could lose the 2022 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday after falling 3-2 behind in the series.
During his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James faced the Warriors in four Finals series between 2015-2018. Golden State won three of those matchups, cementing their place among the all-time greatest NBA dynasties.
The Cavaliers memorably snatched the championship from the Warriors’ hands after pulling off a comeback from 3-1 down in 2016. But James gave Stephen Curry and Co. a run for their money in the other series, too — and Draymond Green remembers it well.
Ahead of Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals, Green said matching up with Boston takes a mental toll because the Warriors have to outsmart the Celtics to diminish their athletic advantage. But when asked how the series compares to the battles with the Cavaliers, the 32-year-old forward said that facing James in the Finals poses a whole other challenge, per Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points:
Well, it doesn’t compare to like mentally playing against LeBron James, who I think is arguably one of the… arguably the smartest guy to have ever played this game. Not ‘one of these’ — arguably the smartest guy to step foot on a basketball court. So to say that it compares to that, it’s disrespectful to LeBron and it’s a lie too. … The challenge is there, but you can’t put it up there against LeBron’s. Like I said, he’s just probably the smartest guy we’ve ever seen play basketball.
The James-led Cavaliers twice tied up the 2015 NBA Finals, even though Kyrie Irving suffered an injury in an overtime Game 1 loss — joining Kevin Love on the sidelines, who missed the majority of the postseason.
And even though the Warriors swept Cleveland in the 2018 Finals, Golden State could hardly stop James, who averaged 34 points, 10 assists, and 8.5 rebounds in the series.
James can’t wait to see Anthony Davis ‘unleashed’
Despite winning the 2020 NBA championship with the Lakers, James has missed the playoffs in two of his four seasons in L.A. But the Purple and Gold want to become competitive again after hiring Darvin Ham as new head coach — and Anthony Davis appears to be the central figure in making those hopes a reality.
James seems to share the view as he posted a video of his co-star’s highlight plays on Instagram and wrote he “can’t wait for [Davis] to be unleashed.”
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