Everything was going right for LeBron James in these playoffs. Seriously, it was all good just a day ago. His team has not lost a single game. The best of the rest of the Eastern Conference - which once seemed capable of offering up some competition - is playing a brand of basketball that is generally reserved for community pickup games in suburban neighborhoods. The Spurs and Thunder have both looked extremely beatable at time times. The biggest threat to his championship aspirations was a team that was playing without the back-to-back NBA MVP. Even after Steph Curry returned last night LeBron must have been feeling pretty good about his chances. The Warriors went down big early and Curry shooting from distance looked like DeAndre Jordan shooting from the foul stripe. Basically he was showing every bit of the rust that had people talking about the Cavaliers as a potential favorite. Sure, Steph started to turn it around in the 4th quarter, but he still missed a game winning shot at the buzzer that would been all but a guaranteed bucket a month earlier. Regardless of his respectable point total, Steph wasn't regular season Steph and the Warriors were on the brink of heading home with the series knotted up. Then this happened....
I actually, against every fiber of my being, feel bad for LeBron here. While Curry's been out we have tricked ourselves into thinking Cleveland had a very real opportunity, and there's no doubt in my mind their leader did too. Then - with 17 points in one 5 minute extra session - Steph Curry reminded us why we have basically had the Warriors penciled in as repeat champions since they started 24-0. He's been out of sight, and apparently we somehow let his ability to take over a game from 30 feet away from the basket out of our mind. As much as we may have underestimated how good the Cavaliers can be when they are actually functioning as a team, we have been just as ignorant of how much better the Warriors are when Steph Curry is on the floor. I don't think there is much doubt about which team is coming out of the East, but if the player we saw last night can stay healthy then you can probably say the same about the West. No disrespect to the very talented, highly experienced Spurs, but if both teams are running on all cylinders then there is clearly one team with a notable surplus of horsepower. The Steph Curry we saw last night is the Steph Curry that has had LeBron James acting like an insecure teenager on social media all season, and I don't think it's a coincidence that we haven't seen that while he's been sidelined. He's definitely back, and let's hope for Cleveland's sake that their high maintenance, passive aggressive point forward isn't back too.