After 6 weeks that amounted to little more than a waste of time to reach the conclusion that everybody knew would happen from the first day of the season, the NBA finally has my attention again.
Those agonizing JV games are finally over. Pretenders like Portland and Atlanta have been mercifully discarded. It’s time to let the big dogs out and let them stretch their legs.
It’s Cleveland-Golden State III. The rubber match. The mother of all series. Ali vs. Frazier in baggy shorts. The series that will be the greatest of all time.
At least that’s what the NBA wants us to think.
Cleveland is the defending champion. It overcame a 3-1 deficit last year to Golden State, aided in part to the Warriors’ Draymond Green being a knucklehead and getting himself suspended for Game 6. You can’t tell me that didn’t change the series.
Golden State was the 2015 champion. I thought it was a wonderful story at the time because the Warriors had been so irrelevant for so long. The only negative to come out of their championship was that it changed the personality of their players. Success went to their heads. They play like they’re owed every call. They went “all whiny” on us and weren’t nearly as much fun to watch.
So I was glad to see Cleveland knock them off their pedestal last year and put them in their place.
Golden State then went out and whisked Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City. It would have been like adding Ted Williams to the 1927 Yankees.
It took a little time and a Durant absence for an injury for Golden State to finally put it together. It made a mockery of the Western Conference playoffs and the Warriors didn’t even have their head coach Steve Kerr, out with illness.
Cleveland had one hiccup against Boston when LeBron James was distracted for whatever reason. But for the most part, it chugged along uninterrupted.
Now we’re being led to believe this year’s Finals are going to be like last year’s, going down to the wire in Game 7 when LeBron made what will forever be known as “The Block” that clinched the title.
Not gonna happen this time.
LeBron won’t allow it to be a sweep, but I really believe a focused Warrior team is going to storm through this series with maybe one loss. Golden State’s “core four” of Durant, Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson was embarrassed by giving up the 3-1 lead last year and won’t drift offcourse. If Green just keeps his mouth shut and plays to his ability, it might be a sweep.
Cleveland’s best chance is Game 1. The Cavaliers have been at their best when they’re rested – should I say when LeBron is rested. If they don’t steal a win on the road in Game 1 or 2, it’s going to be over in 5.
Then the NBA has to figure out how to prop up the rest of its sagging league. Let’s face it, the league has fallen hard times from the days of Bird vs. Magic, Michael vs. the world and The Bad Boys of Detroit. Those were the golden days of the NBA. What we have now is a cheap knockoff and the NBA has to figure out how to re-create the old magic.