Unless you live on the moon, chances are you heard, the Golden State Warriors are up 2-0 in their finals rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers. We have the typical talking points; “LeBron needs to do more”, “Kyrie and Kevin Love are defensive liabilities”, “the Cavs have shut down Steph & Klay” and then the talking heads spend 15-30 more mins discussing the legacy of one LeBron Raymone James. Well, LeBron can only do so much, Kyrie and Love ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE (in my Dennis Green voice), Steph & Klay are just playing team ball, and David Blatt isn’t walking through that door!
LeBron needs to do more
This is a tough one. I’m far, far from a LeBron apologist, but this is his 13th year in the Association. He has played nearly 200 playoff games (194 to be exact), he’s averaging 21-10-9 in these finals per basketball reference and certain players who were injured last year, that gave the ‘experts’ and armchair GM’s motive to question the Dubs chip, have yet to make an impact in this much anticipated series. James isn’t exactly a spring chicken but has plenty left in the tank, however 2016 LeBron has as much help as ’07 LeBron except LBJ is nine years older. It’s the equivalent to restoring a classic car, using cheap paint and parts and hitting the show room floor expecting to win. Not saying his supporting cast won’t play better with the home crowd giving them energy, but unless LeBron starts playing like he did year 2 in Miami, and Kyrie turns into D Wade, this is going to end badly. Maybe media pundits expect to much from the man. Maybe all the (over) exposure over the years have convinced the masses that the “king” should always come out on top, because you know; he’s bigger, stronger, faster, and that’s the bottom line because the four letter network said so. Come to your own conclusion, but the answer is obvious.
Kyrie & Kevin
No one has ever mistaken either one of these two for the second coming of Gary Payton and Bruce Bowen, but something reminiscent of effort and/or improvement on defense would be nice. The Cavs are constantly attempting to hide Love on D, and every time he gets caught on a switch and gets stuck out on a island vs Curry or anyone with a handle, you can almost feel his anxiety through the TV. But I’m not going to sit here and harp on the same narrative your favorite TV personality will drive into the ground, frankly I don’t care. I care more about POINT GUARD Kyrie Irving averaging 2.5 assist in the Finals, and 4.8 overall in the 2016 playoffs, but I’m supposed to believe he’s going to give the 2x MVP more trouble then Russell Westbrook? Let’s have an honesty session; Kyrie makes nice highlights, provides talking points for you instant gratification, I know what I’m talking about because I got some likes on Facebook and a Retweet on Twitter types, but Kyrie is about, Kyrie. Before the return of LeBron, Uncle Drew did pretty much what he does now. Iso. Crossover, wild shot/layup attempt, no defense more Iso. Only difference now is, the Cavs are on the national stage, and his game happens to be visible to the masses to dissect and nitpick at because of it, and being down 2-0 in such in such underwhelming fashion doesn’t help with all the couch scouts either. If theres a silver lining to all this it’s this: Irving is only 24, it’s only his second year in the playoffs, and he gets to tell his grandkids stories about watching Steph rain 3’s from 35 feet out. Complete with video evidence.
Much like Irving, Kevin Love played for a team where he was the center piece, but never had success. Put up big numbers and very much looked like the missing piece to get a contending team over the hump. Fast forward to the 2016 NBA Finals and all you see are tweets about, Kevin being soft, whispers of trade possibilities, and how the Cavs may be stuck with him for 5 more years. What happened isn’t as complex as it may sound. In his last season with Minnesota, Love averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds. His two years in Cleveland so far, a mere 16 & 9. It doesn’t take a genius to know, when you play with other stars your numbers naturally go down. If you want to win, sacrifices have to happen. Problem is, when you play with basketballs golden child, attention (wanted or unwanted) follows. Scrutiny comes with territory, and when you’re making $19 million a year and your backup is making $14mil a year and his numbers are on par with yours without your offensive talents, you have to answer for that. Tristan Thompson averages 8pts 9rebs shoots 58% from the field and averages more blocks per game and plays less minutes in the regular season. In the playoffs Love is averaging the same numbers however a familiar theme occurred. Injury. It’s been reported over the last couple of days, that last years the Warriors were afraid that Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving wouldn’t play. You read that right. That’s because Golden State knew they had a much better chance of winning if they played because the two are such defensive liabilities, and neither one is very good without the ball on offense.
Steph & Klay shut down?
I wouldn’t say the Cavs have the splash brothers figured out, but I will say Steph and Klay have only made a mild impact thus far. If you look at the numbers, they’re both playing within the offense. The Warriors have five players averaging double figures, and are very very close to having seven players doing it. Team ball. Not the hero ball going on on the other side of this finals equation. Golden State has a total of 55 assist. Cleveland just 32. Team ball. I can say, yes Steph needs to put his fingerprints on this series in order to grab that NBA Finals MVP trophy, but what he’s doing right now is working. 14-7-5 aren’t the usual numbers we’ve seen from him this season, but he’s playing less minutes so far (30.3), but all this means is he’s about due for an eruption, The other Splash Brother Klay Thompson is averaging 13 points so far in just 27 minutes per. Not very Klay-esque, but when either he and/or Steph finally get hot, it may too much for the Cavs to handle. In other words how do you game plan for an entire roster? Not two or three stars on a team, but a whole roster firing on all cylinders. Yet i’m supposed to believe, Cleveland still has a shot in a series, where they lost game 2 by 33 points and the Dubs two best players scored 17 & 18 respectively. So like I was saying earlier, unless something dramatically changes, ESPN’s Believeland will be the only feel good story for Northeast Ohio, at least for now. Warriors in 5.