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No one expects this to be easy. Actually, no one expects it to be all that close.
So will the Cleveland Cavaliers get killed by the Golden State Warriors in their fourth consecutive meeting in the NBA Finals?
Well, most will answer with a loud and hearty, “You know it!” Or something like that.
I don’t know what to think. All I know is the Cavaliers are major underdogs, and I can understand why.
The Warriors have four All-Stars — from Kevin Durant to Steph Curry to Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They also have a coach in Steve Kerr whose system cannot be stopped.
The Cavs have LeBron James. And that’s basically it.
Can one man take down an entire organization?
Um, not usually.
Gone are the days of Michael Jordan (or for that matter, LeBron) and iso ball beating a “team.” In fact, in this sport, it has rarely ever worked. It sure isn’t going to work today.
So if the Cavs are to pull off a basketball miracle, they will need to do it with, yes, a whole lot of LeBron … but also plenty of the other guys.
After seeing the non-LeBrons in the Eastern Conference playoffs, it’s hard to believe they can be consistently good enough to overcome the giant that the Warriors have become. Like, really hard to believe.
But can we all just take a moment to appreciate what we have witnessed? Can we stop and appreciate the fact that both of those teams are in the Finals for the FOURTH STRAIGHT YEAR?
Honestly, this is basketball history between two non-traditional franchises. These aren’t the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks. This is Cleveland … and the Bay Area.
And nobody can touch their pro basketball teams. Nobody. In four years.
Oh, it took each of them seven games in their respective conference finals, with both the Cavs and Warriors winning Game 7 on the ROAD.
So maybe opposing teams are getting closer. But maybe not, too. Maybe the Cavs and Warriors can toy with opponents so much that they don’t even care about homecourt advantage in their respective conferences. Maybe they know they can beat anyone, anywhere, anytime.
And now, they face each other. And the Cavs supposedly have no chance.
ROCK VS. … SCISSORS?
The Warriors have been a rock of basketball stability. They’ve had the same core, the same coach, and little drama in their four seasons together. In fact, their biggest (ahem) “obstacle” was adding Durant after a 73-9 season in 2016.
Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 3-1 lead of their own in 2016 … and in perhaps the least courageous move in world history, he then joined the team he almost but couldn’t quite beat.
Durant never really gave LeBron or the Cavs reason for great concern while with OKC. And same was true for the Warriors, even after the Thunder built that hollow 3-1 advantage.
But today, Durant is the primary reason why everyone thinks the Cavs don’t stand a chance. He has the length and athleticism to neutralize the Cavs’ brightest star.
Anyway, while the Warriors have spent the past four years on solid ground, the Cavs have been a wild roller coaster ride of drama and roster shakeups as they try to accommodate James and keep pace with Golden State.
They won a title in 2016 and are playing for their fourth straight championship. Yet if you listen to the national narrative, the Cavs have somehow massively failed.
Back to what matters now, and that is today. That is this very championship series, with Game 1 scheduled for Thursday night (9 EST) at Golden State.
While the Warriors have their obvious stars and a strong veteran bench, the Cavs have LeBron … and maybe Kevin Love, when he’s healthy and playing with confidence (both of which are too often in doubt), and … well, and what else?
On the bright side for the Cavs, along with LeBron and Love, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith are no strangers to this time of year. All four have been a part of this four-in-a-row Finals run.
Also, Kyle Korver is experiencing his second shot at the title, and has been considerably better this postseason than he was in the last.
But other than that, the Cavs are relying on a lot of guys who are stepping on this stage for the first time. And it has been quite obvious that Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and even veteran George Hill are still adjusting.
So that’s where the Cavs stand. It truly is LeBron vs. the Warriors.
So we ask again: Can one make take down an entire organization?
Not likely. But not all men are LeBron James. So go ahead and go with flow, and say the Cavs don’t stand a chance. But you may enjoy it more if you just sit back, relax and enjoy the show and see how far they can actually go.