Ben Margot/Associated Press
The Golden State Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the 2016 NBA Finals, but guard Klay Thompson said Monday he thinks his side is the better team, per James Herbert of CBS Sports:
It’s hard for me to answer right now. I really don’t have a good answer for that right now, to be honest. It was very disappointing just because we know how good we are, we feel like we’re still the best team in the world and we let that slide. So it hurts right now. I can’t tell you when the disappointment’s gonna fade, but it will.
The media asked Thompson how he would get over the Game 7 loss, but according to Herbert, the fact Thompson viewed the 73-win Warriors as the “best team in the world” despite the loss to LeBron James and Company “sticks out.”
Herbert noted “the old cliche is that, in a seven-game series, the best team always wins,” but there is something to be said for how close the Finals were this year.
Herbert noted the Cavaliers and Warriors were tied in points scored for the entire series with two minutes remaining in Game 7 even though the final contest was the only one decided by single digits. It was a battle of drastic momentum swings, and a number of things hurt Golden State in the final three games.
Andrew Bogut went down with a knee injury in Game 5 and didn’t play in Games 6 or 7. The NBA suspended Draymond Green for Game 5 because he accrued too many flagrant fouls after a scuffle with James. Andre Iguodala dealt with back stiffness in Game 6.
The confluence of events helped the Cavaliers overcome a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in NBA history and beat the Warriors in Oracle Arena in Games 5 and 7, even though Golden State lost only two home games throughout the entire regular season.
Green’s absence in Game 5 felt particularly important because he wasn’t on the floor to provide defense at the rim and his impressive passing and shooting on the offensive end. The series turned when James and Kyrie Irving each scored 41 points to keep the Cavaliers alive, and Golden State never recovered.
Maybe a full-strength Golden State team still is the best in the world like Thompson suggested, but James deserves plenty of credit for enforcing his will on the Finals. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game and became the first player in NBA history to lead every player for both teams in the five categories in the Finals, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Thompson can also point to himself and fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry if he is looking for reasons why the Warriors lost. Had the guards shot three-pointers in Game 7 like they did throughout the regular season, they likely would have accounted for the four-point deficit in the 93-89 loss:
|Regular Season||402-of-886 (45.4 percent)||276-of-650 (42.5 percent)|
|Game 7||4-of-14 (28.6 percent)||2-of-10 (20 percent)|
Sean Deveney of Sporting News called the 2015-16 Warriors the best team in NBA history to not win a title after accumulating a record 73 wins in the campaign. They also became the first-ever team to win more than 68 times and not capture the title.
Golden State was the best squad throughout the regular season and much of the playoffs, and it is difficult to argue with Thompson’s assertion. Still, it was the Cavaliers who took the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Northeast Ohio.