OAKLAND – Now that the Warriors are in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1975, the man standing between them and the trophy is a two-time champion and the league’s most impressive physical specimen.
LeBron James is 6-foot-8, 260 pounds. He has the strength of a brawny power forward, the finesse of a wing and the quickness of a jitterbug point guard.
The Warriors know him well. And they’ve fared well, going 3-3 against James, splitting the two games in each of the past three seasons.
Here is a look, in reverse chronology, at the Warriors’ recent history against the Cavaliers forward, the man most consider the league’s best player:
Feb 26, 2015 (at Cleveland): James, facing the Warriors for the first time since returning the Cleveland, torched the Warriors for a season-high 42 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals in a 111-99 Cavs victory.
With MVP candidate Stephen Curry in the house, James clearly wanted to make a statement. He arrived early at Quicken Loans Arena to get in some extra shooting and finished 15-of-25 from the field.
LeBron worked so hard over 42 minutes, he was given the next night off at Indiana.
Jan 9, 2015 (at Oakland): Hampered by injuries to his back and his left knee, James did not play in Cleveland’s only trip to the Bay Area this season, as the Warriors posted a 112-94 win.
Feb. 12, 2014 (at Oakland): As a member of the Heat, James finished with 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists to lift Miami to a 111-110 win.
His deepest cut came at the very end.
After a Curry 3-point play gave the Warriors a 110-108 lead with 14 seconds left, James immediately dribbled up court and deliberately watched the clock tick down to two seconds before launching a 3-point bomb that sent the Warriors to perhaps their most heartbreaking loss of the season.
Jan 2, 2014 (at Miami): James totaled 26 points, five rebounds, five assists – and eight turnovers in a 123-114 Warriors win over the defending champs.
Curry, making a statement of his own, roasted the Heat for 36 points (13-of-22 shooting, 8-of-15 from deep) and 12 assists while playing 44 minutes.
Jan. 16, 2013 (at Oakland): James had 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to lead the Heat to a 92-75 win.
The Heat held the Warriors – who were without Curry (ankle injury) – to 36.3-percent shooting from the field. Jarrett Jack, starting in place of Curry, scored 16 points to lead the Warriors.
Dec. 12, 2012 (at Miami): James was very good. Not good enough. He finished with 31 points, five assists and three rebounds, but the Warriors pulled out a 97-95 win over the eventual NBA champions.
Draymond Green got open under the basket and put in a layup with 0.9 seconds to play in a game that signaled the Warriors were for real.
Curry scored only nine points (in 42 minutes), and Klay Thompson had a team-high 27.