USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell says Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, not Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, should be the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
LeBron James should be the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
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This is what USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell says in his June 10 article, citing James' monster 40-point effort in a 96-91 Cavaliers win in Game 3 on Tuesday for a 2-1 series lead. Golden State Warriors guard and 2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry finished with 27 points, but Bell says James has been way better.
James' 123 points through the first three games of the 2015 NBA Finals are the most ever scored by any player during that specific stretch, per Bell. That means, the four-time NBA MVP has been averaging 41 points in this year's Finals.
Should James go on to win Finals MVP honors, he has Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova to thank.
According to Bell, Dellavedova, who helped limit Curry to just 5-of-23 shooting (including 2 of 13 from three-point distance) in Game 2, held Curry to just 5-of-12 shooting when he guarded him on Tuesday.
In contrast, Curry shot 5 of 6 when guarded by somebody else. Curry shot a combined 4 of 20 from the three-point area in Game 2 and the first three quarters of Game 3, per USA TODAY.
When Curry left the Quicken Loans Arena parquet floor after the Game 3 loss, Bell says "he shook his head in disgust, talking to himself."
"I've gotta be more aggressive," Curry told USA TODAY.
Bell stresses if Curry's fourth-quarter performance in Game 3, when he scored 17 of his 27 points, does not carry on into the remaining games of the 2015 NBA Finals, Golden State's chances will take a serious hit.
Curry wasn't as aggressive in the first quarter of Game 3. As a result, the Warriors scored just 20 points during the game's first 12 minutes. Bell notices Golden State's trend of getting off to slow starts during the Finals has been "disturbing" and uncharacteristic of a team which takes pride in its high-octane offense.
Golden State scored just 20 points in the first quarter of Game 1 and 19 points in the first quarter of Game 2, per USA TODAY.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told Bell after Game 3 he thought Curry's energy level wasn't as high as it should have been:
"Steph never loses confidence. I just thought he lost a little energy and I don't know, life. We just need life from everybody, we need emotion from everybody. He's not a really emotional player like Draymond (Green) is.
"But we've got to fight through the down periods with just that competitive life and energy. I thought we got around to that, but we've got to do it for 48 (minutes)."
The Cavaliers were the exact opposite. They have been teeming with energy all series long despite not having key players Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. What's more important is they're aiming to win a championship for the city of Cleveland, something the city's professional sports teams -- the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns and Clevenland Indians -- have not been able to do in 41 years, per Bell.
The last time Cleveland tasted championship glory was in 1964, when the Browns won the NFL title, per USA TODAY.
As for James possibly winning his third NBA Finals MVP award, Bell presents the waning moments of Game 3 as an analogy. After Curry threw a behind-the-back pass that went out of bounds, James buried a triple to give Cleveland a seven-point lead.
Curry told USA TODAY James, who has hoisted 117 shots through the first three games of The Finals, is expected to get his points. What the Warriors can't afford is for him to score at inopportune moments:
"He's getting up a lot of attempts, and anybody that's that much of a volume shooter when he needs to be for his team, he's going to have points. But the timely ones are the ones that killed us -- the three late in the fourth quarter."
In another development, former Cleveland Browns player and Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown lauded LeBron James for paying tribute to him before Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
According to The Northeast Ohio Media Group's Mary Kay Cabot, James "put his hands together" and then bowed toward Brown's direction as he sat courtside.
Brown told Cabot he was honored by James' gesture:
"It was an honor for this young man to pay tribute to an old soldier. It was very special to me. We all want to be acknowledged by our peers and by good people and 'respect' is a great word.
"I look at it as a great gesture of respect at a moment when LeBron is the man.
"It was one of my favorite sports moments of all time. He didn't have to be thinking about me, so for him to to even have the brilliance to show that kind of respect, it doesn't happen too many times in my life. It was a wonderful feeling.
"He does 1,000 things in so many different ways that are positive and a lot of them people might miss. Well they didn't miss the one last night. And I guess he knew what he was doing, becasue he inspired people by just being respectful to me. And that's quite a deed."
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