Thursday, June 9, 2016

NBA Finals yo-yo

Over the years, we've seen everything from lop-sided affairs to nail biters in the NBA Finals series. There have been times one team was clearly superior (see sweep), and others when it dragged out for 7 games and nobody knew for sure who would eventually prevail until the final buzzer had sounded.

But the 2016 Finals have so far been a strange animal indeed. Consider what has happened....

Game 1. The Golden State Warrior win by 15 points -- a comfortable margin of victory.

Game 2. GS blows out the Cleveland Cavaliers by a whopping 33 points to take a 2-0 series lead.

Some were calling for the fat lady to start warming up, because the party would soon be over in Cleveland.

But not so fast. The Cavs would bounce back at home in Game 3 to wallop the Dubs by 30 points. Another blowout. Home court advantage is supposedly important (though as professionals, it shouldn't matter that much), but c'mon. A 63 point swing between the same two teams in consecutive games is astounding.

The series has had some sub-plots afoot. After being concussed in Game 2, sorta, kinda-like, sometimes star Cav player Kevin Love was out for Game 3. Are the Cavs better without him? In the mean time, sorta, kinda-like, once-in-a-while star player Kyrie Irving appeared to emerge from his coma and actually -- you know -- finally play a good game.

Much was made of Lebron this and Lebron that. Could and would he will himself to take things in his own hands and power his team to victory? That was always nonsense, of course. He's a great player, one of the best of all time, but any opposing team can "take away" a single player if they wish to. Sure, by doing so, such a team would expose themselves elsewhere, which not be such a great idea. Nevertheless, Lebron got his 30 points in Game 3. A worthy effort, but hardly off the charts. Hey, it's Lebron. He's supposed to get 30. Just another day.

What has been surprising so far is through the first three games, the highly touted Splash Brothers of Golden State have been held to little more than a ripple. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have yet to "go off" against the Cavaliers. Has the Cleveland defensive scheme been thwarting them or have they just not been knocking down the shots they normally do?

Star power is normally a good thing, but this series has been won in the trenches to date. In the first two games, the Warriors' "bench" players came on strong to throttle the Cavaliers. Depth is a very good thing too. Yet in Game 3, the tables were turned. The "non-stars" of the Cavs were instrumental in their romp to victory. The Cavs have life again, and if they can win Game 4 -- who knows? In a best 2 out of 3 series, they would still have to win a game at Golden State. A formidable task indeed, but it can be done, as the OKC Thunder proved not long ago.

Here's what we can count on for sure. Legions of former players, ex-coaches, analysts, "experts", and other talking heads will jabber on 24-7 not only dissecting what has happened so far, but giving their sage advice and predictions as to what the two teams should do next to counteract each other. Play this guy, or that guy. Go big or go small. Whatever. This is even more nonsense.

The Cavaliers and Warriors played twice during the regular season, and now three times in the NBA Finals. It's still the same two teams with same two rosters and they've watched endless hours of film of each other. There are no surprises left to be pulled out of the proverbial bag.

The same fifteen guys on one side, and the same fifteen guys on the other. Whoever plays best overall -- wins. Pretty simple. We don't need a forensic lab of TV geeks making this overly complicated.

But it still seems strange how wide the margins of victory -- both ways -- have gone so far.

One way or the other, yours truly hopes they hurry up and decide a champion.

Don't they know the US Open is going to start next week?


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