The Golden State Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the 2016 NBA Finals, but shooting guard Klay Thompson said Monday he thinks his side is the better team.
"It was very disappointing just because we know how good we are," Thompson told reporters. "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."
When Thompson was asked how he would get over the Game 7 loss, he said: "It's hard for me to answer right now. I really don't have a good answer for that right now, to be honest."
With less than a minute remaining in Game 7, the Cavaliers and Warriors were tied in points scored for the entire series. The final contest was the only one decided by single digits, but the series featured drastic momentum swings, including a number of things that hurt Golden State in the final three games.
Andrew Bogut went down with a knee injury in Game 5 and didn't play Games 6 or 7. The NBA suspended Draymond Green for Game 5 because of his accrual of flagrant-foul points. Andre Iguodala dealt with back stiffness in Game 6.
Cleveland, meanwhile, overcame a 3-1 series deficit—the first team in NBA Finals history to do so—by sandwiching wins at Oracle Arena in Games 5 and 7 around a home victory in Game 6. The Warriors had lost only two home games throughout the regular season and had not lost three in a row since November 2013.
Green's absence in Game 5 felt particularly important because he wasn't on the floor to provide defense at the rim or his impressive repertoire on the offensive end. James and Kyrie Irving scored 41 points apiece to keep the Cavaliers alive, and Golden State never recovered.
Maybe at full strength the Warriors are still the best team in the world like Thompson suggested, but James deserves plenty of credit for turning the Finals in Cleveland's favor. 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 playoff history to lead both teams in all five categories, per ESPN Stats & Info.
If he's looking for more reasons why Golden State lost, Thompson can also point to himself and fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry. Had the guards shot three-pointers in Game 7 like they did throughout the regular season, they would have more than made up for the four-point margin they lost by in the 93-89 contest:
|Splash Brothers' Game 7 Struggles|
|Three-Point Shooting||Stephen Curry||Klay Thompson|
|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 named the 2015-16 Warriors the best team in NBA history to not win the championship. After accumulating a record 73 wins in the regular season, they became the first team with more than 68 victories to 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. But the Cavaliers won the Larry O'Brien Trophy.