While he might not accept the Cleveland Cavaliers' standing as a heavy underdog in the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron James understands how much of a challenge Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will pose to the Cavs' shaky defense.
Two days before the Cavs and Golden State Warriors play Game 1 at Oracle Arena, James told reporters that the Warriors' All-NBA backcourt features "probably the two greatest shooters" ever:
"They shoot the ball extremely well," James said. "Klay and Steph are probably the two greatest shooters that we've probably ever seen. Obviously in today's game they are. Some of the shots, there's nothing you can do about it. Better offense beats great defense any day. That's just always been a saying in basketball. So you have to be able to do other things to stop them. But it's hard to contain them. We all know that. The whole league knows that. Our team knows that. But we have a game plan and we have to follow it and be true to it."
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James' assertion isn't a revelation, of course.
Curry and Thompson probably aren't even at the halfway marks of their respective careers, and yet they've already reached all-time status as 3-point snipers (Curry more so than Thompson, but the latter isn't far behind). Their shooting flurries are unprecedented in league history, and limiting those runs will arguably be the Cavs' No. 1 priority defensively.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry have both surpassed the previous playoff record for the most 3-pt FG in a single series— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 31, 2016
Former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson might have misused them at times, but he deserves credit for being the first person to publicly call the tandem "the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game" -- there's simply no disputing that statement anymore. It's a fact. We've never seen two shooters of this caliber in the same backcourt, and we may have never seen two shooters like this, period.
Curry is the greatest shooter ever. That's indisputable. Thompson has crept into the same tier as Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Reggie Miller and a few others, but after historic performances like Game 6, it's becoming easier to justify his standing as No. 2.
Regardless of how one determines the criteria for the best shooters of all-time, Curry and Thompson are near the top of the list -- Curry should already be No. 1 -- and will present the Cavs with a slew of unsolvable problems on the defensive end.