The NBA Finals have not been going well for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors have been utterly dominant so far and it is hard to imagine how the Cavs can in four out of the next five games in order to come back. Of course, that was the exact sentiment that many of us felt last year when the Warriors took an early lead in the series.
This year is probably not last year. While the Warriors achieved the best regular season record in all of NBA history last year, this year’s team is even better. The difference is obviously Kevin Durant, who has been having a transcendent series thus far.
Shea Serrano of The Ringer had an interesting piece today, which can be seen here, where he essentially asks, “does it matter for LeBron’s legacy if the Cavs win or lose?”
To this point, the deck has been stacked against the Cavs so it is tough to see many holding this series against him. Not to mention, last year’s victory was such an emotional win for the city of Cleveland, as well as LeBron, that if the Cavs were successful this year again that it would have been the unexpected rather than the required.
It’s hard to root against the underdog and easy to root against those who we consider to be “too good,” for example it is quite easy to find articles these days about how the Warriors are ruining the league. How could one wish ill against LeBron in this type of situation? And if the Warriors are what they think they could be, which is the best playoff team in NBA history, then how could we hold it against anyone if they lost to the most absurd accumulation of talent that the NBA has ever seen?
The answer is probably that we couldn’t.
How can the Cavs come back?
A common adage is that a series is not truly over until the home team has lost. The Cavaliers may have been decimated in the first two games, to the point that the Tyronn Lue has waved the white towel in the last five minutes of both games, but the Cavs have found a way to beat the Warriors, both last year and on Christmas day this year.
One of the common themes of the Cavs’ victories has been amazing Kyrie Irving performances. Thus far, Kyrie has not been able to live up to those expectations as Klay Thompson’s defense has been absolutely amazing. If the Cavs are going to be able to compete tonight, they need to get Kyrie going early and often.
They will certainly need to get more out of their role players as well. J.R. Smith has been invisible this series and he one of the only two-way players on the Cavs’ roster. A lot of the Cavs’ players only are able to help out on one end of the floor and they have not been able to find the correct mish-mash of players that are able to effectively play the Warriors on offense and defense.
Tristan Thompson was also key to the Cavs’ success last year and he has also been played out of the series. One of the most important things to watch tonight is to see if the Cavs try to slow the games down and play Tristan more. LeBron has not posted up once in the series and that is an easy way to limit the possessions and try to stop the Warriors’ fast-paced attack.
The trouble is that the Warriors haven’t all had a great game yet. Steph Curry has been a huge problem for the Cavs, but he hasn’t really had a red-hot shooting game yet. Draymond has been limited due to foul trouble and Klay Thompson has only shot well in one game.
None of that has mattered, as the combination of skills and Kevin Durant’s MVP level play has just obliterated the Cavaliers. For the sake of the Cavs, LeBron, and the theoretical parity of the league, hopefully the Cavs can make tonight interesting.
Happy Chatting Away.