After Game 3 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James compared this year’s Golden State Warriors team to the San Antonio Spurs squad that defeated his Miami Heat for the title.
LeBron James is hardly a stranger to the NBA Finals, as he has made it in each season year since 2011. 2013 and 2014 were against the San Antonio Spurs, who lost to James’s Miami Heat in the former but won in the latter campaign. That year’s Spurs team won the NBA Finals in five games.
In 2018, James’s Cleveland Cavaliers are down 0-3 to the Golden State Warriors, a team on the brink of their third championship in four years. Game 1 was close and Game 3 did not feature a runaway from the Warriors, but they still managed to close out the first three matchups.
Does this year’s Warriors team compare, at all, to the Spurs from 2014? According to James’s comments, after Game 3, he believes so (via The Sun Sentinel):
“Well, I can take you back kind of to the battles I had with the Spurs when I was in Miami,” James said early Thursday morning in Cleveland. “You just knew that they wouldn’t beat themselves. You just knew that like every possession we were playing San Antonio when I was in Miami, you just knew if you made a mistake, Manu, Tim, Tony, Pop will make you pay.
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Games-wise, it’s possible these teams do not compare, as the Warriors can close the Finals Friday night, with Game 4 at 9:00 p.m. ET. However, it’s not the basis of LeBron’s comparison, noting the battles against Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and how no mistakes could be made against them.
In 2013, that was a closer battle, which went seven games after Ray Allen’s historic shot in Game 6. Those teams fought back and forth, with Miami’s eventual win and claim of a second consecutive title.
In that 2014 series, San Antonio only lost Game 2 and featured an MVP performance from Kawhi Leonard, considered the breakout moment of his young career. Miami still had Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to combat the original “Big 3” and Leonard, but it was not enough.
The Spurs also faced the Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, the last time any team was swept in the last series of the playoffs. It’s history James will look to avoid, as he was also on that team as a four-year pro.