Ugh. The NBA Finals that was supposed to wash out the horrifying taste of the first 3 rounds has (thus far) completely and utterly failed to live up to the hype. Golden State has put an absolute smackdown on Cleveland making the 4th quarter of both games in Oakland irrelevant. Looks like Draymond was on to something back in October:
If the Warriors do go on to win this series in either 4 or 5, it will confirm the outcome that most fans assumed since the day Kevin Durant signed on to form the NBA’s newest (and greatest) team of the super team era. This inevitability is why most fans currently hate KD, and why LeBron became so hated when he first went to Miami in 2010. At least LeBron and the Heatles LOST that first year though! That one series against Dirk made the entire season worth it. That’s why we watch sports. To be surprised, breathless, excited and nervous all in one moment. That air of invincibility that surrounded the Heat when LeBron first joined evaporated in those 6 games. There’s nothing in sight to derail this Warriors locomotive and ultimately that’s taking the fun out of the NBA right now.
So with all that said, the Cavs actually find themselves in the same spot they were last year, down 0-2 headed back to Cleveland after getting destroyed in the first 2 games. Is there anything Cleveland can try to somehow turn this around and make a series out of what’s quickly becoming a laugher?
SLOW THE GAME DOWN
YO. WHAT THE FUCK IS TYRONN LUE DOING?? Coach Lue helped himself out a lot during last year’s NBA Finals. I was not impressed with Tyronn in the months after taking over from David Blatt, and thought his coaching career was going much the way of his playing career.
But those fateful 3 games of the 2016 Finals put a muzzle on my trap that prevented me from talking shit. Well, 365 days later Lue is giving me the 2nd chance I needed.
Let me give you a little insight Tyronn, YOU’RE NOT BEATING THE WARRIORS AT THEIR OWN GAME. Trying to run with the Warriors is as futile as Phil Jackson trying to build the Knicks into a “competent” organization. For the past 2 Finals we’ve seen the Cavs at their best when they muck it up, destroy the Warriors on the glass, and rough Steph up as often as possible. That exact formula had the Cavs up 2-1 in 2015 with Matthew Dellevadova, Timofey Mozgov, and yes even James fucking Jones playing major minutes. Then, last year Tristan Thompson made his presence felt in a big way, absolutely punishing the Warriors’ smaller lineups.
This year Cleveland has not taken advantage of Golden State’s smaller lineups whatsoever. The Warriors are currently +3 on the glass in the first 2 games, and that’s a recipe for disaster if you’re supporting the Cavs. Now some of you might be saying, “yea you dumb fuck, obviously Cleveland wants to slow it down, but the Warriors talent isn’t allowing them to do that”. Except that’s just not true. Cleveland is pushing the pace whenever possible, taking ill advised shots early in the shot clock, and basically trying to prove that they’re better than the Warriors at a pace & space, run & gun high scoring affair. After 2 games and 40 minutes of Tristan Thompson looking like a lost puppy we can safely say little Tyronn needs to go back to the drawing board. Here’s a hint: play deliberate basketball, work the shot clock, crash the offensive glass and limit the Warriors to as few possessions as possible. It seems unlikely anyone can beat the Warriors anyways, but trying to beat them like this is just plain stupid.
THE ROLE PLAYERS NEED TO SHOW UP
Another take you didn’t need an “expert” to tell you, but all the players who were so key in Cleveland’s amazing comeback last year have been on milk cartons this year. Of all the rationale that Cavs supporters preached before the series started, one that looks especially silly in retrospect is that while Golden State had gotten better than last year so did Cleveland. Kevin Love was fitting in better than ever before, Kyle Korver could stretch the floor, and Deron Williams gave them an experienced second unit floor general they didn’t have last year.
Could Cleveland’s new pieces combat the Warriors signing of Durant?
Let’s remember, we’re still talking about KYLE KORVER and DERON WILLIAMS vs. Kevin Fuckin’ Durant. No bench signings or internal improvement from Kevin Love was ever going to bridge that gap, but it’s not even the players who were supposed to be improvements that aren’t showing up. It’s also players who were huge for them last year like Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and JR Smith.
Thompson may be salvaged by trying to change the style of play as suggested above, but the 2 Knicks castoffs are finally showing their true colors. Shumpert has been overrated for years now, but he absolutely needs to stop shooting long 2s that inevitably brick and lead to Golden State fast breaks. JR is the real problem for Cleveland right now though. Once upon a time I also had faith in Earl Joseph Smith III. But then he did this:
And now there’s reports saying someone was smoking weed in the visitors locker room after the game 2 loss. That writer wasn’t pointing any fingers, but we all know who that was…
Yea fuck it, there’s no silver linings here. The Cavs are DONE. Adios LeBron.