Few people in the NBA know just how much of a challenge facing LeBron James at this time of year is better than Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
« There is no bigger challenge in basketball than trying to beat LeBron, » he said before Wednesday’s Western Conference play-in tournament game.
« There is no bigger challenge in basketball than trying to beat LeBron.”
High praise from Steve Kerr for LeBron 🙏
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 20, 2021
« He’s a brilliant mind as well as the greatest athlete on the planet, » Kerr continued.
The stakes are not as high this time around as when the Warriors head coach squared off with James in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018, but this is still a high-profile showdown.
The winner will be the No. 7 seed in the traditional eight-team playoff bracket and face the Phoenix Suns in the first round. The loser will play in a do-or-die game Friday against either the Memphis Grizzlies or the San Antonio Spurs.
Still, it is difficult not to think about those NBA Finals clashes whenever James plays against the Warriors.
Golden State defeated his Cleveland Cavaliers in three of those four series and went 2-0 after Kevin Durant joined the fold, but James’ 2016 victory stands out. After all, Cleveland overcame a 3-1 deficit against a Warriors squad that won an NBA-record 73 games during the regular season with James and Kyrie Irving taking over for extended stretches.
It was one of the most memorable NBA Finals in league history, and Kerr once again has to worry about slowing down James and an All-Star teammate in Anthony Davis in Wednesday’s contest.
The Lakers won two of the three regular-season matchups against the Warriors, although they will have to deal with a red-hot Stephen Curry who averaged 37.3 points per game in April and scored 30 or more points in seven of eight games in May.
The NBA would have been hard-pressed to pick a more intriguing play-in tournament game than James against Curry, but that just means Kerr has to once again prepare for the daunting challenge of facing the King.