Last night was the exact reason I was fine with the Celtics losing in the Conference Finals. The Cavs played well the majority of the night, and lost by 20. It wasn’t that close. Celtics would have lost by 60. This series is #done. It’s over. There’s not many teams in NBA history that could beat this Warriors team four out of five games, and this year’s Cavs team sure as hell ain’t one of them.
I mean, I don’t even know what else the Cavs can do at this point. I guess they could start by slowing the game down. I have no idea why they’re insisting on playing a million miles and hour against the best fast-break team in 30 years. They just open themselves up to get gashed time and time again. If you’re playing so fast that the only chance you have of winning a single game in this series is gassed in the third quarter, you’re doing something wrong. They could also stop playing Iman Shumpert, like, at all. Everything about him was always overrated because he played in New York, but he’s arguably the worst player in the league. He’s a defensive specialist who can’t guard anybody, and his offense somehow gets worse every season. They could stop throwing lineups that include exactly zero (0) members of the LeBron-Kyrie-Love big 3. But, hey, LeBron likes Tyronn Lue, so who needs a real coach, right? It’s mostly seen as a joke of a question, but are the Cavs actually missing Matthew Dellavedova? He’s not Gary Payton, or anything, but at least he provided some resistance and tried the whole time. Kyrie, who everyone keeps telling me is better than Steph, was absolutely invisible all game. For all the talk of Steph not guarding him, Kyrie doesn’t guard Steph either, even though he “tries” to. Deron Williams might as well be a mannequin on defense. I don’t know what’s going on with J.R. Maybe last year’s carriage of a performance finally turned back into a pumpkin. And the aforementioned Shumpert is bad. Their guard defense is atrocious. LeBron attacks the rim every time, doesn’t get a call, then stands there berating the official as Kevin Durant comes down for an uncontested dunk. Why can’t the Celtics ever face this horrible version of Tristan Thompson? They always get the guy who dominates the boards and commits to defense. All non-LeBron Cavs have totally quit and I’ll be shocked if they win a game this series.
As for the Warriors, I’m still wrestling with how I feel about them. This is one of the greatest team ever, and probably the best since the ’96 Bulls. But they’re the most widely reviled team this side of the Patriots. People hate that Durant pulled the ultimate ring-chasing move. People hate their antics, lead by Steph and Draymond. People hate the new-fangled 3-point shot and how “soft” they are (despite the fact that they have the best defense in the league and the fact that they shoot just as well at the rim as from deep). I’ve mentioned this before, but the Warriors were always kind of my “second team” when they sucked. I loved their at-the-time quirky playing style (Al Harrington revolutionized the stretch-4 I don’t care what you say), I loved their raucous home crowd before it became a corporate, Silicon Valley wine and cheese, go there to be seen crowd, and, most of all, I loved Monta Ellis-era Steph Curry. The one who wasn’t a two time MVP. The one who wasn’t one of the two-or-three most popular players in the league. The one who no one knew about. It felt like being an exclusive club when you were watching and he got a random triple double or 40-point game. You just never knew what you were going to get. I didn’t have League Pass or anything, so watching the Warriors was a rare treat. Sometimes Steph would get hurt or have a crappy game. Sometimes C.J. Watson would take over. It was basketball-roulette. They were a bad team, but they were the most fun team in the league. Then they drafted Klay Thompson, adding another fun heat-check guy. Then Draymond Green developed. Then, in the blink of an eye, they won 73 games and were on the verge of back-to-back titles. They were a national obsession- both during their rise and during their fall. People looked for any excuse to discredit them. Steph Curry was suddenly overrated. Spend enough time on Twitter and you’ll find plenty of people who think he’s flat-out bad. Any time he wasn’t perfect of defense or had an off night shooting the eye emojis would come out in full force. Steph suddenly sucked because he wasn’t a Russell Westbrook level athlete. No matter if people loved him or hated him, they couldn’t keep his name out their mouths. His fame was so extreme I started to dislike him myself. Draymond started kicking and punching everyone in the nuts. And then Kevin Durant added an almost universal hatred. It’s become so extreme that if you don’t think the Warriors are singlehandedly ruining the sport of basketball (despite the fact that LeBron himself created the free-agency-created Super Team era), you’re an idiot and a social pariah. But, like, when I watch them play, I’m sorry but I kind of enjoy it. They play perfect basketball. They move the ball better and more unselfishly than any team in the league. They’re the best shooting team and have some of the best finishers in the NBA. They play some of the best defense in the last 20 years. I don’t really love that Durant signed there, but he’s so great, especially now that he’s blocking shots left and right. I’ve secretly held on to some of my Steph Curry stock, and nights like last night, when he dominated and Kyrie STINKS, make me happy. I love Klay, and wouldn’t mind seeing what he could do on a different team (Celtics?). I could do without the dick punching, but Draymond’s defense can’t be ignored. So, yeah. I guess I still like the Warriors. Sorry I can both appreciate LeBron’s greatness and the overwhelming greatness of the Warriors. I still feel a little dirty about it, but I’m going to love watching them celebrate.