NBA on TNT analyst and former Houston Rockets guard, Kenny “The Jet” Smith joined fellow NBA on TNT analyst and number one pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, Chris Webber to talk about the upcoming NBA Finals. Smith and Webber look ahead to a potential rematch of the Warriors and the Cavaliers.
Webber on Cleveland’s need to play high-level defense if they are to win the NBA Championship: “I don’t think people give J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert enough credit on defense. They beat Golden State last year, when from my recollection many people in the media didn’t give them a chance. It was because of the defense of those two guys, you can’t stop [Stephen] Curry, you can’t stop [Klay] Thompson and you can’t stop Isaiah Thomas, but you have guys that are willing to be on that island – be vulnerable, be crossed over and those guys, the fact that they’re willing to run through a wall, that’s what I’m looking at… I believe they have flashes of defensive brilliance on their side… I want to see if they match the defensive intensity of Boston.”
Smith on the Warriors being considered “villains” while the Cavs have not faced that same backlash despite both potentially going to their third straight NBA Finals: “When you go to the team that beat you, people aren’t going to like it. Ray Allen wasn’t liked by the Boston Celtics [when he went to Miami] and Kevin Durant was a better player at that stage than Ray Allen was when he went to Golden State. It left them open to [have the villain label]… LeBron, in his case, he came home, so the story is more compassionate. He had the same backlash when he went to Miami, but no one’s ever going to question someone coming home… [The Warriors] put that on themselves and Kevin Durant knew the expectation that would happen… It is different than what great players in the past have done.”
Smith on the Warriors developing into a truly great team over the last three years: “The Warriors got good a couple of years ago… People thought they were pretty good, but they became the best team. Klay [Thompson] wasn’t a child prodigy, Steph Curry was not a child prodigy, these guys have developed into that and won 73 games without Kevin Durant… There are teams that can do what Golden State has done – develop players into this system we see today.”
Webber on the potential third consecutive Warriors/Cavaliers NBA Finals matchup: “It’s the greatness of LeBron… I don’t know what we could do about it except to really just enjoy it. When Magic [Johnson] and some other guys did it, we maybe talked about parity instead of enjoying it and we’ll never see a guy like Magic Johnson again. We can change divisions, or try to do a bunch of things, but when you have great players like Curry and Durant on the same team, or a guy like LeBron, there’s not much you can do. I love that we get to see this – a guy learn to win under Pat Riley and come home and show his team how to win… I just think it’s the greatness of the players that we have.”
Watch the NBA Playoffs 2017 live on BT Sport or via NBA LEAGUE PASS at www.nba.tv.
Source: Pitch London
Image: NBA / Getty