- Chris Palmer, ESPN the Magazine
It's only fitting that the two teams left standing feature the game's two best players, superstars who happen to play the same position. That one will earn his first ring by outplaying the other merely adds to the drama that is this year's NBA Finals. Although LeBron James and Kevin Durant are at vastly different stages in their careers, the debate as to which one makes a better case as the league's top player rages on. But it ends here.
Who's really better?
Durant has emerged as the league's most dangerous shooter. There is nowhere on the floor he can't beat the defense with his jumper. From 8-foot floaters to 3s, Durant is a constant threat. His ultra-crisp release comes high above his head with a minimum of body movement and setup, allowing him to release a shot several feet beyond the arc with relative ease. Durant gathers quickly, barely leaves the ground and can get off a shot in his natural shooting motion in less than a second after catching a pass. This leads to an astonishing amount of uncontested looks.
What's been awe-inspiring is how easily Durant can score on James, who is regarded by many as the game's best perimeter defender. And he does it with the simplest, most straightforward of moves. In Game 4, he took James off the dribble several times for 10-foot baseline pull-ups that didn't require any pump fakes. On another occasion, he calmly waited in a triple-threat position at the top of the key, rose up and drilled a 3 over James without even using his dribble.
James can create clean looks as well and has terrific mechanics, but he can be very streaky. His mid-range jumpers are usually some version of a turnaround or fadeaway, and it's a little frustrating that he doesn't maximize his size on the perimeter to get looks. He often settles for bailout 3s, and when he pulls up from deep it's still a bit of an adventure, even after nine years in the league.
At this week's NBA Board of Governors meetings in New York, teams were advised that the league's salary cap could rise past the $100 million mark as soon as the 2017-18 season, sources said.
Cavaliers coach David Blatt does not want to put too much responsibility on LeBron James' shoulders in the playoffs.
Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich will not play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a hyperextended left knee.
Guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen, hobbled this season for Memphis, both intend to play in Game 1 on Sunday against Portland.
Chris Bosh, who was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and hasn't taken a shot since All-Star Weekend, isn't going to let this season get him down.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed support for Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha and said the league is searching for answers in the police incident that caused Sefolosha's broken leg.
NBA owners held their first serious discussions about the playoff format, though Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday it was too soon to tell if there was interest in changing it.
The 2012 deal of Joe Johnson helped make the Hawks' success this season possible. Now Atlanta faces Brooklyn, hoping to earn the biggest dividend.
The biggest challenge this postseason for the top-seeded Warriors might be what history has taught us is needed in playoff ball, writes J.A. Adande.
The Bucks must build an arena by 2017 or face relocation. Investors hope to break ground by fall to show the NBA good faith, but who will foot the final costs is unclear as taxpayers balk.
Our ESPN Forecast panel predicts which West teams will advance to Round 2.
The NBA will include referee names in its official play-by-play feeds alongside all calls reported to the table starting with the playoffs.
Chandler Parsons vows not to let the boos bother him as he returns for Houston for the playoffs as Public Enemy No. 1 for Rockets fans.
Over the past six seasons, LeBron James is 24-3 in the first round of the playoffs. That spells trouble for the Boston Celtics in Round 1 this year.
Looking for a different outcome this time, the Rockets try to forget the past and advance past a first-round matchup with Dallas.
Tony Parker has been through enough battles in the playoffs to know what to expect against the Clippers in the first round.
Can coaching the Warriors be as effortless and fun as rookie coach Steve Kerr has made it look this season?
This season's Western Conference might be the best the game has ever seen. Want to reach the promised land? You'll have to survive the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The New Orleans Pelicans celebrated making the playoffs with a dance party in their locker room, headlined by Anthony Davis.