The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors begin the NBA Finals tonight. Finally.
Will they make up for the mostly drama-free (on the court) playoffs? Hopefully.
I have to admit I have no idea what to expect from this series.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the defending champions, but they are decided underdogs according to Las Vegas.
The Warriors have a different look from the last two seasons, but they are hard to get a read on since they were hardly challenged in the playoffs. (The same is true of the Cavs, but they play when more people are still awake to watch them take care of their business.)
And of course though the Warriors added Kevin Durant, they still don’t have LeBron James.
I am going to try hard to avoid the incessant James-Michael Jordan comparisons for the foreseeable future. My position remains Jordan’s greatness was defined by his being not only one of the best scorers and all-around players of all time but also the ultimate winner.
I want to enjoy LeBron’s nightly dominance as it is and worry about his legacy later. History is easier to admire in the rear-view mirror but harder to remember if you’re not looking forward as it approaches.
James has three titles despite spending the last seven seasons on super teams that have more raw talent than Jordan’s Bulls
(This often goes overlooked, but the ‘90s Chicago teams had to be more better, so to speak, than the sum of their parts than any team in history. Aside from Scottie Pippen, they were all role players. Yes, that includes Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant, neither of whom were as talented as the Chris Bosh or Kevin Love. Yes, Rodman was a glorified role player even if he played that role well enough to make the Hall of Fame. Don’t @ me! Bosh made nine more all-star teams than Rodman, and Love already has twice as many all-star appearances and he’s only 28).
James’ Finals losses all go on his permanent record even if 2007 and ’15 have reasonable caveats. He also gets bonus points for last year’s come-from-behind series victory over the Warriors.
Still, 6-0 > 3-4. It will also be better than 4-4 if we get to that point, but LeBron’s got plenty of time left to catch Jordan late in his career — as Tom Brady did Joe Montana.
Last year’s Finals are instructive because of the reminder series are long. Things change as they go.
The team Cleveland beat in the last two games was not the all-time great squad that won 73 games in the regular season that ended almost two months earlier.
The Warriors had lost their center to injury, and they wore down as the series went on. That tends to happen to jump-shooting teams, of which both were and still are, so last year it came down to essentially a great defensive play by the best player in the world and a great shot by one of his all-star teammates.
That doesn’t mean the Cavaliers didn’t deserve the championship. They clearly did.
The series was a coin flip in the end that could have easily gone the other way, and LeBron and his guys earned it by making more plays in the end than Steph Curry’s crew.
The lesson is that if one of these teams really is superior, it would be advised to get the knockout as soon as possible.
That’s particularly true if that team is Golden State. They already know it’s better to keep it on the feet when you take on LeBron. His ground game is second to none (who are active)…
Meanwhile, the Stanley Cup Finals went on last night without any fish tosses I’m aware of.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, perhaps feeding off the good mojo from the local D.A. who decided not to press charges against the man who threw a catfish onto the ice during Game 1, blew open a close game in the third period to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
I’d say Nashville still has a great chance to come back, but it’s hard to overlook the goal-tending they are getting.
Anything else today?
Oh yeah, the Reds lost to Toronto again, and interleague play is still terrible.