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NBA Showdown

Cavs & Warriors Rubber Match to Begin Tonight

The NBA finals return tonight (6.1) on ABC, pitting the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third straight season in a matchup only the most degenerate and self-loathing of Vegas gambling addicts dared to bet against before the season began. 82 regular season games and a playoff system that seems to go on forever has led us to this, exactly what everyone assumed would happen the day after the NBA Finals ended last year in a historic, down 3 games to 1 comeback by the Cavs, aided by a superhuman effort from Lebron James.


In an effort to rouse excitement for this year’s unsurprising Finals matchup, there has been much media ballyhoo about Lebron James passing Michael Jordan on the all-time playoff scoring list. Pundit after pundit has argued, many on James’s behalf, that James—not Jordan—is now the greatest NBA player of all-time. Many cite not only his passing of Jordan on the all-time playoff scoring list, but the fact that James is now competing in his 7th straight NBA Finals. I agree this is an eye-catching stat, however this prevailing rhetoric refuses to acknowledge that the NBA’s Eastern Conference has been awful over the last 7 seasons or that Lebron James still has a losing record in the NBA Finals, where he’s gone 3-4 in his career.


I’m sorry, but I forgot when we all forgot that Jordan was 6-0 in the NBA Finals and how no one even stood a chance those years. Do you remember when he came back with the fadeaway? My God. It was almost like he had transcended the game and just wanted to try something new. The dominance he showed then is something I still remember 20 years later, watching as a boy. It defied logic.


Moving on. The Cavs and the Warriors have breezed through the playoffs to arrive here, facing no competition to speak of along the way, laughably discarding of alleged high-quality opponents like the Spurs and the Celtics like empty milk cartons into the trash bin; the pictures on the milk cartons being of those players who went missing for those teams along the way. The Warriors didn’t drop a single contest, going 12-0, and the Cavs lost one game, to a beleaguered Celtics team, to finish 12-1.


There’s been significant concern voiced about a lack of “parity” in the NBA lately and when you take a look at the blood-soaked and beleaguered bodies left in the wake of the Cavs and Warriors, it’s easy to understand why. I mean it hasn’t even been amusing up to this point, just a painful exercise in futility. Fun only for those types of fans who would enjoy watching a fishing competition where the contestants toss dynamite into the water and send out scuba divers to recover their catch. Much like the NBA, it possesses all the characteristics of a sport, but it isn’t exactly competitive.


Along the way, the usual suspects for both teams have not disappointed. Splash Brothers, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have rained down threes and scored in absurd bunches for the Warriors while Draymond Green has continued to excel at all facets of the game, most notably with his stringent defense and superb passing. For the Cavs, Kyrie Irving has attacked the rim with ferocity and continued to show other-worldly handles, while James has done what James does which is be the dominant basketball force on the planet. Tristan Thompson has also come up big controlling the rim for the Cavs, averaging over 2 blocks per game so far in the playoffs.


There’s already been significant trash talk from the Cavaliers camp. Tyron Lue, the turtle-headed, place-holder coach of the Cavs recently claimed, like an over-caffeinated child at a slumber party, that figuring out the Celtics’ offense was more difficult than figuring out the Warriors (probably the best offense in the history of the game.) In response, Warriors’ interim head coach Mike Brown called the comments, “cute.” Lue will soon reap what he’s sown.


The difference between this year’s Finals and last year’s will be Kevin Durant. I have no doubt we will witness another Herculean effort from Lebron James, but I’ll actually be shocked if the Cavs win a single game. James has stolen Durant’s thunder for too long, and I expect Durant to solidify himself as a legend of the sport with one of the all-time great NBA Finals performances.  


The Cavs’ 2016 Finals victory, along with all of the other absurd things that happened in that fateful year of our lord (Cubs winning the World Series, Trump being elected! What?) are now the stuff of some sort of bizarre alt-reality history. The 2017 NBA Finals should return the necessary order to the sport’s world, at least, in the form of sheer and utter dominance of the Cavs by the Warriors. I predict there won’t be much to talk about after halftime of game 3. The result of the series should be a foregone conclusion by that point.


Warriors in five.  

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