I am still in shock that the Cavaliers won the NBA Finals Sunday night and I am so glad the Warriors are at home, crying in their beer, like they deserve. It was a truly historic comeback because no team had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit, and the Cavs broke that ugly streak. It’s hard to say how exactly the greatest regular season team of all time managed to lose in the Finals, but here’s my important opinion on five deciding factors.
Draymond Green was Suspended for Game 5
This was well deserved and it had a huge impact on the series. While we can all agree that Draymond Green sucks ass as a person, he is pretty great at basketball. He rebounds, facilitates, runs the floor, plays multiple positions, and generally hustles his arse off. All commendable traits, but they don’t look as good when you flagrantly chop at another man’s undercarriage. The NBA was forced to acknowledge that there were too many incidents involving Draymond and balls. Game 5 wasn’t a blowout, but it also wasn’t close. Cleveland handled the Draymond-less Cavaliers fairly easily.
Draymond had scored 15 points on 23.5% shooting in the previous 2 games, but he still rebounded and facilitated enough to be important in the Warriors’ game 4 win. His absence was felt and my theory is that he thought he was suspended for game 6 as well, but found out he’s supposed to suit up like 10 minutes before game time. This would explain his somewhat mediocre stat line of 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists in 41 minutes of play that contributed to their loss. He was unreasonably good in game 2 and 7, but only one of those games ended up in a win (I’ll let you guess which game it was).
Andrew Bogut was Injured in Game 5
Andrew Bogut played 8 minutes and never returned. Later we found out that he has bone bruises in his knee and will not play in game 6 or the inevitable game 7. Bogut doesn’t have the impact of Draymond Green, but he plays smart defense and he’s a large anchor in the middle of a wild band of quick, little bastards who love to Run-N-Gun, baby. The loss of Bogut hurt them and you could see it in Tristan Thompson’s eyes while he caught like 13 alley-oops.
Steph Became Human Again
Curry averaged 22.8 points on 38.4% shooting, 3.75 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 4.5 turnovers in 4 losses. He averaged 22.3 points on 43.1% shooting, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 4 turnovers in 3 wins. Neither stat line is staggeringly good or bad, but it’s surprising how mediocre they are for the league’s reigning two-time MVP. He probably hadn’t returned to full health after his injury in the Rockets series. Or maybe the refs were paid to make the Warriors lose…
Tyronn Lue put Tristan Thompson on Steph Curry. That’s right, he made the Cavaliers’ 6’9″ center guard Curry, and Thompson flourished. Curry was almost worthless, especially in the second half of game 7 and it had a lot to do with Tryonn Lue’s decision. If Lue was deemed the coach going forward solely for this decision I’d have no qualms.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving
Not much I can say here except that they Balled Out, baby. LeBron James rightfully won the Finals MVP award after he averaged 35.3 points on 51% shooting, 11.5 rebounds, 9 assists, 2.75 blocks, and 2.5 steals in their 4 wins. Shit. He proved he’s still the best player in the NBA and he might be Thor.
Moving on… Kyrie took an ice cold shower after game 2, then stared at himself in the mirror for 6 hours, wondering why he was playing so poorly. That, he thought, was supposed to be left up to Kevin Love. Irving concluded it was high time to metaphorically (take notes Draymond) punch the dick and balls of Golden State. Starting with game 2, he averaged 30.8 points on 50.2% shooting, 4.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and only 2.4 turnovers. He generally outplayed Curry and did a great job of tiring El Stepherino out, which might be as important as his offensive game, you could argue. He hit a huge 3 at the end of game 7 and just about sealed her on up for the Cavaliers. Cue state-wide party.
Official Cause of Death – The Three
All season we’ve been amazed by Steph and the Golden State Warriors for their other-worldly shooting abilities. Steph broke Ray Allen’s single-season record for 3’s (269) in ’12-13, beating him by three 3’s (272). In ’14-15, Steph hit 286 of them, then broke his own record this year with 402 god damn 3’s. His teammate Klay Thompson, who happens to be the second best shooter in the NBA, hit 276 threes this year, putting him in third place on the all-time list. Something tells me they’ll make up the top 10 before their careers are over.
There’s a saying in basketball that states a team can “live and die by the 3.” The Warriors have lived by the 3 for two years, and now they’re dead. In their three wins, Golden State shot 42% from 3, and 38.7% of their field goals consisted of 3-point shots. A high percentage but not unbelievable, especially for a team as proficient as they are. In losses however, they shot 33.8% from 3 and their attempts made up 47.3% of their total shots. Their percentage of made 3’s dropped 8.2%, and the percentage of their offense derived from the 3 went up 8.6%, which almost brought half of their offense behind the arc. That is a massive swing. Cause of death – the 3, baby. Time of death – June 2016.
Golden State Postmortem, Part Six: Kevin Love did all the right things in game 7. He played hard defense, cleaned some damn glass all night, didn’t shoot any shots he shouldn’t have, and ended up with a +/- rating of +19, which was 9 more than the next highest (Kyrie). Despite all of the Great On Line Jokes about Kevin Love being the group project member who didn’t contribute, he absolutely played a key role in that game 7 win.
“Well, that about does her, wraps her all up… I guess that’s the way the whole darned human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself, down through the generations, westward the wagons, across the sands of time until we– aw, look at me, I’m ramblin’ again. Well, I hope you folks enjoyed yourselves. Catch ya later on down the trail.” – The Stranger
Until next time,