LOS ANGELES -- Stephen Curry was in only his second season in the NBA the last time LeBron James didn't play in an NBA Finals. With the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated from contention, Curry and the Golden State Warriors will see something this postseason that the NBA hasn't experienced in 14 seasons -- James missing the playoffs altogether.
"It's different, but what is it? [Eight] straight Finals he went to?" Curry said at the Warriors' morning shootaround before facing the Lakers for the final time this season on Thursday. "I'm sure it's a different experience for him, for better or worse."
After facing James in the past four NBA Finals, Curry fully expects James to "regroup" with the Lakers for next season.
"Obviously the rest of the league continues to go, a lot of talent, a lot of great storylines, people chasing championships," Curry said. "But he's had an amazing run. Pretty sure he'll be able to reset for next year and regroup. It's just different [with James not in the postseason]."
Curry's Warriors teammate Kevin Durant agreed it must be "a little weird" for James.
"To see how many years he's played in the playoffs in the league and how precious the summers are for us as players when we get to kind of relaxing, get away from the game and get away from the life a little bit, this is his first time in a while, so I wonder how that's going to be for him right after the season; he gets to kind of do his thing a little earlier than usual," Durant said after the Warriors beat the Lakers 108-90. "So I'm sure he needs the rest, I'm sure he's pumped and excited to step into a summer to work on his game and his body and everything that he loves to do."
Curry and Durant did not get to face James one final time this season, with the Lakers star shut down to let the groin injury he suffered on Christmas Day against the Warriors fully heal. But Curry did see his former assistant coach and current Lakers coach Luke Walton one more time. The Warriors star said that no matter what happens with Walton after this season, any team would be "lucky" to have him as its head coach.
"All the injuries they had and expectations coming in with obviously LeBron James joining your team, it goes through the roof," Curry said of the Lakers' disappointing season. "But everything is a process. This league is tough, man. It's hard to win basketball games no matter who you have on your team. I think that the way he's kept his presence on the sidelines, from watching games and watching his body language on the side, the way that they might not be winning games right now, but the team is playing hard. ... I'm sure they appreciate his consistency.
"Honestly wish the best for him in terms of the future because who knows what will happen," Curry added. "But he's a great coach. Anybody would be lucky to have him leading the team."
ESPN's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.