Golden State Wins, Cleveland Loses

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I didn’t watch the last game of the NBA finals between Golden State and Cleveland. Golden State won the game and series, which was no surprise. I listen to a sports radio station when driving, and everyone’s been saying Golden State was much deeper and more talented than the Cleveland Cavaliers, even though Cleveland has LeBron James, obviously the best player in basketball right now. Probably one of the best ever.
The surprise isn’t that Golden State won, it’s that Cleveland won any games at all, considering what all the sports radio people were saying. But they won two games, and should have won three, since they were leading in the first game, and let Golden State tie and win it in overtime. Had they won that one, they might have ended the series already because they started out a lot more determined than Golden State. Had Kyrie Erving not gotten hurt, they might even have swept the Warriors. As it was, LeBron James put on a real show, but didn’t have enough offensive help to win. Matthew Dellavedova scored 20 points in one game, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov scored some points, but none were able to be consistent. LeBron needed at least one star to help him, and the two that had been with him all season (Kevin Love got hurt in the first playoff series) weren’t there.
One of the arguments during the past week was whether James ought to win the MVP of the series, even if the Cavs lost. Those arguing against him said the MVP should come from the winning team, and that’s what eventually happened. But James only averaged more points than anyone has in the finals, and averaged close to double figures in both assists and rebounds too. He was obviously the best player on the floor, he just didn’t have enough help. The other players tried, but didn’t have the talent to win. They had the talent to compete, though, and must have scared the shit out of Golden State.
Cleveland was only playing seven players, so Golden State had a much deeper bench. That meant that by the end of each game Cleveland players were getting tired. And after the third game the tiredness started piling up, just when Golden State started getting a handle on how they needed to play.
Andre Iguodala, who won the MVP, was a worthy enough choice. He gave the Warriors a lot of things: both scoring and defense, particularly on LeBron James. James scored a lot of points, but he missed a lot of shots too. He had to take a lot of them, since no one else was hitting consistently. He set a lot of people up, but a lot of people missed a lot of shots. And Iguodala especially frustrated him.
The series ended the way it had been predicted. Cleveland overachieved for three games, and Golden State underachieved. Cleveland played defense in the first three games, and kept Golden State from doing what they wanted. Cleveland was in all of the games, at least for awhile, even though almost all their talent was concentrated in one man. It’s a tribute largely to that one man that Cleveland didn’t give up, especially in the second game, after Kyrie Erving had been hurt in the first game. They had all the excuse they needed, but they came back and won two games. The next game they lost, as much as anything because they were exhausted. If Golden State were as good as everyone said, they should have won easily. If they had lost the first game, as they deserved to, they probably would have lost the series.
It’s nice that Golden State won their first NBA title in forty years (I have pleasant memories of that series), but they know they were lucky. They had all the advantages (except not having the best player in the game) going in, and still know they could have lost the series if they hadn’t been lucky.Too bad for Cleveland, but maybe next year they’ll be a little luckier and not have crippling injuries at exactly the wrong time.

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