LeBron James and Stephen Curry in a play-in game?
The NBA play-in tournament provides that stage when the Lakers and Warriors meet Wednesday at the Staples Center. It’s not the biggest stage James and Curry have faced off on — but it’s a captivating first for both superstars.
Curry won the NBA scoring title for the second time in his career with 32.0 points per game this season. The Warriors won their last six games to make the play-in. James missed a large chunk of the season with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play Wednesday. James averages 25 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists.
The loser will be forced into a play-in elimination game for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Who will have the edge in this matchup? Sporting News looks at the history of James vs. Curry ahead of what could be the most-entertaining game of the entire NBA playoffs.
LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry head-to-head
James and Curry have met head-to-head in the regular season 16 times. James̵ 7; teams won nine of those 16 games. He averages 26.8 points per game with 8.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Curry averages 21.1 points per game with 6.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds.
The Cavs and Warriors met in the NBA Finals four straight seasons from 2015-18, and Golden State won three of those four series. Cleveland, however, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 NBA Finals in their only seven-game series. In total, Curry has a 15-7 head-to-head advantage against James in those postseason games.
James averaged 33.0 points per game with 11.5 rebounds and 9.3 assists in those 22 games. Curry averages 25.4 points per game with 6.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds.
James’ most memorable game
There have been more prolific games, but Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals will always stick out. James scored 27 points with 11 rebounds and 11 assists — not to mention the unforgettable block against Andre Igoudala — in a 93-89 victory that completed a 3-1 comeback for the Cavaliers. That led to Golden State bringing in Kevin Durant for the following season.
Curry’s most memorable game
The Cavaliers and Warriors were tied at 2-2 in the 2015 NBA Finals, and Curry helped the Warriors take control of the series with a 37-point performance in a 104-91 victory. Curry hit 7 three-pointers and added seven rebounds. James scored 40 points in the same game, but it was not enough against the Warriors, who would clinch the NBA championship in Game 6.
Most combined points
Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals is best remembered for when J.R. Smith dribbled in the wrong direction at the end of regulation, but James and Curry combined to score 80 points in that game. James scored 51 points to keep the Cavaliers within striking distance, and Curry finished with 29 points to lead Golden State in a 124-114 victory.
James vs. Curry since joining Lakers
The Warriors have won three of four regular-season meetings against the Lakers since James arrived in 2019. Curry averages 21 points in those games, while James averages 19.3 points. It’s safe to say both players will top those marks Wednesday.
What’s at stake for Curry?
The Warriors did not make the playoffs in 2020, and this is a chance for Curry, 33, to continue a fantastic season. Since April, Curry averages 37 points per game and is shooting 43.7 from 3-point range in that 23-game stretch. The Warriors are underdogs in the matchup, and Curry can clinch his third NBA MVP award in style.
What’s at stake for James?
With James, it’s about a shot at a fifth NBA title for the defending champions. James averaged 24.5 points in Los Angeles’ last two regular season games, and the Lakers have won five straight games heading into the play-in game. Los Angeles is the favorite in the matchup, and it’s another chance for James, 36, to take over on a big stage.