2016 NBA Finals coverage: game 3
The 2016 NBA Finals were supposed to be a rematch of the 2015 Finals. Okay, so it’s still technically a rematch, but it’s blowing my mind how much of a difference a year makes. Cleveland has lost the first two games of the Finals this year by more combined points than any other team in Finals history. Last year, they actually held a 2 games to 1 lead over Golden State.
There are so many factors at play here. For starters, the Warriors were even better this year than last year, when they won a franchise record 67 games and had their first league MVP since Wilt Chamberlain in the ’59-’60 season (like damn, I thought it was going to be Rick Barry but, nope, it’s been even longer than that). And oh by the way, the Warriors were still in Philly when Wilt was MVP (and ROY in the same season). Now they boast the best regular season record in league history with 73 wins to 9 losses and the only unanimously selected MVP in NBA history. That would be Stephen Curry, in case any of you FUCKHEADS didn’t know.
LeBron James isn’t playing at the same level he was last year when he almost single-handedly brought Cleveland to the brink of their first sports championship since 1964. Can he even hit a jumpshot at this point? Even LeBron’s defense this year hasn’t been as good as it was last year. Even so, the Cavaliers are arguably a more complete team this year. Kyrie Irving is back in the lineup after missing all but one game of last year’s series. Kevin Love didn’t get his arm yanked out of his socket by Kelly Olynyk and has made it to the Finals. The Cavs also were playing their best basketball of the season in their crusade through the Eastern Conference. Combine that with the fact that OKC had Golden State on the ropes, down 1-3, in the Western Conference Finals, and it seems like the Cavs would pose a viable threat to the Dubs.
Two games and two #BEATEMDOWN’s later, and the series is all but over. A series in which the Splash Bro’s have combined for 55 total points over those two games. Cleveland’s problem is rookie head coach Tyron Lue looks lost when it comes to handling the Warriors. He’s tried their own small-ball lineup only to be outscored by the Warriors small lineup by 46 points. He even played LeBron at center for 10 minutes in Game 2, something he did for only seven total minutes in the entire regular season. To compound matters, he is virtually unable to turn to a big lineup because center Tmofey Mozgov has played ever so sparingly this year. To expect Mozgov to come in and make any considerable impact in the series is luda. And then there’s Richard Jefferson. Props to him for being in the position to get a good amount of minutes in the first two games and to start Game 3. But what does that say about the Cavs that they have to play Richard Jefferson, the oldest 35-year-old in my recent memory, and depend on him for production? I can’t even believe he’s still in the league.
Then there’s Cleveland’s one-way players. Kevin Love doesn’t play very good defense. Oh, and Irving plays even worse on defense than Love. Tristan Thompson is an above-average defensive player, except he can’t contribute any points on offense. Even Kyrie’s offense leaves much to be desired. He’s only good at getting buckets for himself. It’s as if he’s trying to take the Warriors 1 on 5. This isn’t even a new thing; this is how Kyrie has always played basketball.
At this point, it looks like the Dubs are playing as if the worst is already behind them. They’ve made it over the toughest hurdle in beating two of the top five NBA players in a seven game series, such that this series against the Cavs is turning into clockwork. As a fan of competitive basketball, I can’t help but be disappointed. As a fan of the Warriors, I only wish I was in California so I can make it to the parade.