NBA Finals Game 7: Review

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the 2016 NBA Champions!

The Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in game 7 of the NBA Finals, in Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. LeBron James lead his team to a victory with a triple double, scoring 27 points 11 rebounds and 11 assist. His teammate Kyrie Irving added 26 points, and J.R. Smith scored 12.

This marks the first time a team has been down 3-1 in an NBA Finals series, and went on to win the series.

“I’m coming home with what I said I was going to do,” he said, adding, “I can’t wait to get off that plane, hold that trophy up and see all our fans at the terminal.”

Warriors guard Klay Thompson made a pivotal layup to tie the score at 89-89 with 4 minutes and 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter. For the next 3 minutes and 86 seconds, neither team could make a field goal.

During that period James missed 3 shots including 2 jump shots and a layup. Kevin Love missed a hook shot with 2 minutes and 32 seconds left in the fourth, and Irving missed a jump shot with 1 minute and 55 seconds left.

Then Irving with 53 seconds remaining, buried a 3 point field goal through the netting. James hit another free throw later, as the Warriors failed to score another point.

“It was just about being resilient,” Irving said. “And coming in and taking care of business. One for the books, literally one for the books.”

The Cavs only played eight players, and those eight players outrebounded the Warriors 48-39, and made 40.2 percent of their field goals opposed to the 10 Warriors, who made 38.6.

“Everybody counted us out…and that’s when we strive the most,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s definitely when I strive the most.”

“Once we get to a Game 7, I’ll take my chances versus anybody, versus any team,” James said. “You give me one game, you give me 48 minutes, I’ll take my chances.”

ALL TIME FAILURE

A lot of NBA fans see Cleveland Cavaliers first NBA Championship as the fulfillment of a promise. James an Ohio native, started his NBA career with the Cavs before departing to Miami, where he became a two time NBA champion. James then returned to Cleveland, promising to win one title for his hometown team.

James story (at least in my estimation) should be revered. James his been on a lifelong mission, to bring his city a championship. It doesn’t matter how it get done, as long as it does, and James and Cleveland should be happy about that.

However, Golden State provided Cleveland with plenty of opportunities.

The biggest came from Draymond Green. Green played an amazing game 7, scoring a game high 32 points with 15 rebounds and 9 assist.

One could argue there would be no need for a game 7, if Green hadn’t been suspended for game 5. Green’s punch to James’s groin prompted the NBA to issue him a flagrant one foul, and suspend him. Some people believe this is evidence to accuse the NBA of being rigged. Those people should also think about the discipline of Green.

Green had already been given privilege by the NBA, when they did not suspend him for kicking Steven Adams in the groin during the Western Conference Finals. The best quality Green possess is his pride, his pride is really the mechanism that drives him. It’s that same pride that prevents him from avoiding mistakes. In short he can never just let things go. He always has to push back and get even, and this time it cost his team a world championship.

Now there is plenty of blame to go around the Warriors franchise. Stephen Curry could not defend Kyrie Irving. He as well as Thompson could not replicate the scoring performances they had all season. The bench stop providing quality support, in terms of scoring and effective play. The injury to Andrew Bogut did not help things.

Steve Kerr and staff may have gotten outcoached, but if Green had not been suspended, it would be the Warriors celebrating the greatest season in NBA history. Now the Warriors have collapsed, and in the most epic way.

Green’s decision in an instance, threw away 73 NBA record wins, a unanimous NBA MVP, and the greatest head start to an NBA coaching career. Green for a moment chose his pride, over everything else, and his team could not make up for it.

Give credit to James on a 13 year journey that has culminated with the Cleveland Cavaliers first NBA title. Credit needs to also be given to the Warriors and Green, for handing the opportunity to them.

NBA Finals Game 6: Preview

 

Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio will be the sight of tonight’s game six of the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors hold a 3-2 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. A win tonight for the Golden State would mark their second consecutive NBA Championship.

Draymond Green returns for the Warriors from his one game suspension, served during game five. Green absence had a large impact, as the Cavs defeated the Warriors 112- 97. Green has played stellar throughout these finals and he is eager to return.

“I have a strong belief that if I play in Game 5, we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play,” Green said. “I move on from the suspension. That was Game 5; we’re here in Game 6, so it’s behind us. We got an opportunity to do something that, I don’t know if it’s ever been done … where you win a championship on someone else’s floor two years in a row. We have that opportunity. It’s a fun one. It’ll be tough.”

While Green returns certainly helps the Warriors, center Andrew Bogut has been sidelined with a knee injury for the rest of the finals. The combination of Bogut’s injury and Greens suspension spelled doom for the Warriors in game five. Even with Green returning, the Warriors still need to make some adjustments.

“It’s tough not to have Bogues out there,” Green said at practice Wednesday. “He anchors our defense a lot of the time. Very smart, very good passer in our offense, great facilitator. It’s not like a loss where you say it doesn’t matter. It definitely matters. We’re going to miss him. But one thing we always talk about is our depth. So it’s an opportunity for someone else to step up.”

Steve Kerr the coach of the Warriors, used Harrison Barnes and Anderson Varejao to fill the void left by an injured Bogut, to no avail. Fetus Ezeli could be the option the Warriors need to look to, as a solution for this conundrum.

Stephen Curry has regained his offensive potency, that was missing from the first three games of the NBA Finals. That said, the first ever unanimous MVP has been a defensive liability against Kyrie Irving. Irving has dominated the Warriors defense the last three games, scoring 30+ points. Curry, who will reportedly need surgery after the finals, has to find a way to slow down Irving.

“Yeah, I want to honestly play better and be more consistent,” Curry said. “But the situation is that we’re one game away from winning a second championship, and I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win.”

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, a loss would not only mean the end of the season, but once again another year LeBron James will have failed to deliver on his promise to win a NBA Championship as a Cleveland Cavalier.

On Monday, James and Irving scored 41 points, the first time that teammates had ever done that in the NBA Finals. For James and Irving, the challenge will be to keep up this scoring effort. Game five really showed how lethal the Cavs can be when Irving and James are playing at a high level.

“As soon as the buzzer ended in Game 5, all I could think about was preparation for Game 6,” Irving said. “Watched some film and the next 24 hours would be just solely focused on how we can be better for Game 6.”

“My only expectation for myself is to be there and be rock for our team throughout the whole game,” James said. “Statistics vary but me being a leader for our team for all 48 minutes will always be consistent.”

Cavs, have all but given up on finding production from the substitution players. So the Cavs challenge tonight will be to not only win, but find a way to make their possessions count.

Last year the Cavs struggled with their conditioning, late in the Finals, and that must be a concern to someone.

“We have confidence we can win the series,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I mean, that’s why we’re playing. We know we’re down 3-2. We were down 3-1, so we won it on their home floor, a hostile environment. We’re coming back to our place where we know we play great, and we’re going into it to win the series. But you’ve got to take it game by game, one game at a time.”

NBA Finals Game 5: Review

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 112-97, in game 5 of the NBA Finals Monday night, in Oakland, California. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James scored 41 points a piece for the Cavs, the only time two teammates have scored 40 points in a NBA Finals game. James also grabbed 16 rebounds and handed out 7 assist. The win extends the series to a sixth game, Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio.

“We had a mindset that we wanted to come here and just extend our period and have another opportunity to fight for another day,” James said. “That was our main concern, and we were able to do that.”

Irving at times appeared unstoppable, finishing with 17-24 made field goals, which included sinking 5-7 from three point territory. Irving was an efficient scorer early, starting with a made three point shot, from a James assist. Irving the proceeded to drill his 7 of his first 8 field goals.

Irving aggressive play style has been paying off. Since game 2 of the finals when Irving only scored 10 points, he has scored 30, 34, and 41 points repectivily.

“I’m thankful, but at the same time we wouldn’t be in any position without both of us putting on a performance like this,” Irving said. “Our guys coming in and just trusting our leadership and doing it for four quarters…that’s what it’s about.”

James had a effective an efficient jump shot all night, he missed two early lay up attempts and had a few turnovers. Then James nailed two three point shots early in the first quarter, and then relied on his fade-away jump shot in the throughout the night.

“We’re just happy we got another day. That’s all we can ask for,” James said. “We got another day to survive. We’re going to start preparing tonight, start preparing tomorrow and whenever Game 6 is we’ll be ready.”

The Warriors started the game shorthanded due to the suspension of forward Draymond Green. Green had been suspended by the league on Saturday after they deemed his punch to James groin in game 4, worthy of a flagrant one foul.

Things just got worse for the Warriors when center Andrew Bogut left the game with a knee injury, after colliding with Cavs guard JR Smith. Warriors coach Steve Kerr then used a line-up consisting of forward Harrison Barnes at center. The change backfired on Kerr as Irving and James took advantage of a now open area around the rim.

Barnes who weighs a slim 225 lbs at 6’8 inches tall, got bullied by Cavs Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Both Thompson and Love weigh more 240 lbs.

Barnes who had been playing well early in the series, played awful Monday night. After missing two free with 8 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Barnes then only made 1 of his next seven shots. After those missed free throws Barnes displayed bad body language, and the misses seemed to effect him as the game went on.

Kerr expressed after the game that the team was prepared to play without Green, and they didn’t play well, especially on defense.

“We weren’t very good defensively,” Kerr said. “We obviously knew we were without Draymond, so there’s no point in harping on that. We had to play better, and we didn’t.”

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson played well as their team came up short. Thompson was the teams leading scorer, with 37  points making 11-20 field goals. He also made 6-11 3 point shots, he and Curry combined for 62 points.

“It obviously stings real bad,” Thompson said. “We’ll come back stronger.”

“We like our chances going forward and continuing to just try to be us, the best we can, and get one more win,” Curry said.

Thursday night the Warriors will take their 3-2 series lead to Cleveland, the site of their championship win last season. Kerr is very optimistic about his teams chances.

“I kind of like our position,” coach Steve Kerr said. “… I like our position a lot better than theirs.”

 

NBA Finals Game 5: Preview

Game 4 Recap

108-97 was the score that propelled the Golden State Warriors to a 3-1 series  lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. NBA MVP Stephen Curry lead his team to victory with 38 points and 6 assist. Golden State forward  Klay Thompson scored 25 points, Thompson and Curry did not score more than 20 points in any game, this series.

“All the slander,” forward Draymond Green said talking about Curry. “He’s a competitor. He’s been under a heavy microscope, and rightfully so. Two-time MVP, you’re expected to have a great game in the finals. He struggled the first three, tonight he was our guy.”

Green had 12 rebounds and 9 points during Friday’s nights win. Green during an brief altercation with Cavs forward LeBron James, hit James with a blow to the groin, after James stepped over him. Subsequently, Green has been issued a flagrant foul one and suspended for tonight’s game 5.

Green had previous altercation’s  with Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in the Western Conference Finals. Green appeared to kick Adams in the groin purposely, under review the NBA elected not to suspend Green.

“While Draymond Green’s actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a standalone act,” NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said. “The number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension for Game 5.”

The 11 point victory has been the closest margin  of victory for either team this series. Golden State won its first two games by 30 points, as well as the Cavs in game 3.

James and Irving combined for 59 points in the loss. Forward Kevin Love missed game 3’s win with a concussion, but was declared healthy for game 4. Love did not start the game, but play 25 minutes and scored 11 points.

Starting in his place was  Richard Jefferson, a hero for the Cavs in their game 3 win. Jefferson played 24 minutes, and scored 11 points.

“I felt it was the right way,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We had just won a game by 30 points. We played well. So I just decided to stick with (Richard Jefferson).

Lue was fined $25, 000 for criticizing the referees, after game 4. The refs seemed to miss a number of fouls on both teams. Lue’s frustrations were centered around  James

“He never gets calls,” Lue said Friday. “I mean, he attacks. Outside of Russell Westbrook, he’s one of the guys that attacks the paint every single play. And he doesn’t get a fair whistle all the time because of his strength and because of his power and guys bounce off of him. But those are still fouls, and we weren’t able to get them. But we’ve got to play through officiating.”

Teams with a 3-1 series lead in the NBA finals have a 32-0 record.

Game 5 Preview

In game 4 Curry and Thompson got back to their usual ways, with a big time scoring performance to help their team win. The Warriors have dominated the Cavs for most of this series, without the help for their two stars.

“Business as usual,” Curry said. “We answered the bell. We got back to who we are as a team.”

Those comments were made before Green’s suspension was announced, now the Warriors have to find a way to fill a huge void in their game plan.

Green provides the Warriors with leadership and toughness, to go along with a variety of scoring and rebounding.

“Draymond’s success is based on playing like that,”Center Andrew Bogut said. “He plays physical and chippy and he’s a talker. That’s what makes him who he is. It’s hard to tone that down when it’s in you. We don’t blame him for it.”

Expect Andre Iguodala to start in place of Green tonight, Iguodala was last years finals MVP. Iguodala usually provides big minutes and scoring for the Warriors as a substitution player, so the challenge for the Warriors will be to find another player to help from the bench.

The usage of Love will be an interesting aspect for tonight’s game. The Cavs are facing a win or go home scenario, and Love hasn’t played in many of the teams critical late game situations the entire season. That won’t start in the NBA Finals, Love could actually see less playing time tonight.

Game 4 was very physically, and filled with hard fouls. James and Curry shared an incident, when James yanked Curry by the arm to the floor. The physicality should continue tonight, since Cleveland appears to be outnumbered and out-coached.

Prediction

Golden State 108 Cleveland 88

Even without Green, the Cavs are just no match for the Warriors in Oracle. Cleveland  does not have enough reliable parts, where the Warriors have plenty of players looking to step-up in Green’s absence. Curry and Thompson will carry most the load for their team tonight, but Harrison Barnes could show up big as well.

 

 

NBA Finals Game 4 Preview

Tonight in Cleveland Ohio, the NBA Finals will resume. The Golden State Warriors hold a 2-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs blew away the Warriors by 30 points on Wednesday, after being blown out themselves in games 1 & 2.

For the Warriors, the mystery seems to be the health of guard Stephen Curry. Curry has had virtually no impact on the finals, and the only time he has looked like an MVP was the 17 points he had in second half of game 3.

Curry and Splash Brother Klay Thompson have combined to make a whopping 31 of 77 shots, and neither have scored 20 points in any game. Curry and Thompson average 30.1 and 22.1 respectively during the regular season. Thompson had been scorching hot during the playoffs, but both are struggling against the Cavs defense.

“Just think about the OKC series. We’re down 3-1, he hadn’t played well,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday. “Look what he did the last few games. So that’s Steph. That’s who he is. He always responds. He’s got a huge heart, competitive as hell, and extremely talented. I know how he will respond. He’ll play well. He always does.”

“Last night was a struggle,” Curry said Thursday. “Just, again, foul trouble and kind of dealing with that, but also not being as aggressive as I needed to be. I don’t know what the reason was for that, and it won’t be that in Game 4.”

Cavs on the other hand have some team issues of their own. No one watching can deny, the team played better, especially on defense without Kevin Love. Not to mention the Cavs still have little to no production from their bench. Love could be asked to contribute from a substitution role tonight. Either way, a 3-1 hole to the Warriors would be devastating for Cleveland.

We miss his rebounding. We miss his post presence. We miss his three-point shooting,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Thursday. “So we definitely want him back, but he has to take the steps necessary to get himself back.

“We can’t afford to go down 3-1 and go into their building and give them confidence going back. So it’s a do-or-die game for us still,” LeBron James said Thursday.

Something to look for is how the Warriors will play JR Smith. Smith had a great defensive effort in game 3, but the effort came only after he took and made his shots. The Warriors could devise a scheme to deny him the ball, which will result in Smith giving less effort on defense.

Another thing to watch is how many minutes Richard Jefferson will play. Expect Love to start, but how long will Lue leave Jefferson on the bench? Jefferson played 33 minutes in game 3, but he hasn’t played those minutes all year.

 

Harrison Barnes has been a real force in the Finals, maybe the Warriors should give him a shot with the ball. If Curry and Thompson are still struggling, Barnes could be a matchup problem for Cleveland.

Prediction

Cleveland 105-Golden State 103

Curry is hurt, and he won’t get much healthier in Cleveland. The Warriors are too comfortable with their lead, and they aren’t under the right amount of pressure to take this series seriously again. James will have another big night as well as Love, who will be looking to prove the doubters wrong.

NBA Finals Game 3: Review

 

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Kyrie Irving

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat down the Golden State Warriors in game 3 of the NBA Finals 120 -90, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and JR Smith were the leading scorer for the Cavs, the Cavs starters outscored the Warriors starters 105-57. The Warriors lead the NBA Finals 2-1.

The Cavs held the lead for the entire game, and it was the team’s first win against Warriors in the last seven tries. Even better for Cleveland, the outscored the Warrior 23-3 in second chance points, no question about the Cavs effort.

James as expected, had a terrific game 3 in the Cavs first home games of these finals. James delivered 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assist. James hit his first four shots, which not only got his team excited, but the crowd involved. James had been struggling in the finals, not up to his usual 30 point performances. Now it seems he may have found some momentum.

“Coaching staff gave us a great game plan and we executed it for 48 minutes,” James said. “We’ve got to give the same effort on Friday, It started defensively and it trickled down to the offensive side.”

Irving’s 30 points came in the most crucial time, his 8 assist were even more effective. Irving’s night was totally different from the previous two games. In those games, Irving shot 31 and 35 field goal percentage, during game 3, Irving shot a 48 field goal percentage.

“He attacked early,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We got the ball up the floor with great pace. He was able to attack in transition. And even versus the switches, he really attacked quicker so they couldn’t load up on him. He really attacked quick, and got downhill and got into the paint.”

Smith and forward Richard Jefferson, who started in place of an injured Kevin Love, together scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Smith 20 points came with 5 made three point shots, and when he was on the court, the Cavs lead the Warriors by 33 points. That is the highest plus minus point differential in the NBA finals so far.

“Since we landed (in Cleveland) the other day, it was pretty much a clean slate,” Smith said. “Get back in the gym, get back to my routines, drive the same route I go to the gym every day.”

BREAKDOWN

The Warriors should be ashamed of themselves, no excuses. To play a road game in the NBA Finals, when you know the Cavs are going to give you their best effort, the Warriors were no ready for the challenge.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Obviously they just punched us right in the mouth right in the beginning. We’re turning the ball over like crazy.

Stephen Curry must be in pain, he hasn’t appeared aggressive and that might be due to his knees. Curry missed six games early rounds of the NBA playoffs, and last night in the first quarter only scored two points. Curry scored 17 points in the second half (not good for the Cavs to help him get comfortable).800px-Stephen_Curry.jpg

 

“There’s a sense of urgency knowing how big Game 4 is and I need to be ready,” Curry said.

Curry can’t rely on the depth of the Warriors bench to help him. Curry and Klay Thompson have had enough time to rest, while the other players are contributing. It is now time for them to play up to the level basketball fans are accustomed to seeing.

“We’re in great shape,” Curry said. “Not the way we wanted tonight to go, myself included. We’re glad we obviously took care of home court so we’re still in good position.”

Kevin Love is taking way to much blame this morning. Yes the defense played better with Jefferson in the line-up and the team seemed to play more effectively. That right there however, is the reason it makes no sense to pic the Cavs to win this series. Why does it matter who is on the court to do your job?

Yes players need to be comfortable with the players on the court, and Love can limit the defense of the Cavs at times. Unless Love has been unwilling to play a certain style, it makes no sense for the Cavs to play that much better and harder without him. This is the NBA Finals, how much motivation do you need?

Kevin Love’s plus minus for the NBA Finals is -16, meaning the Cavs have been trailing a combined 16 points when Love is on the floor. When Smith is on the floor the Cavs are ahead 3 points, in the first two games Smith’s plus/minus was a combined -30. James and Irving may have saved the day, but there is clearly tension in the locker room and that is not all Love’s fault.

Game 4 will be in Cleveland Friday June 10th on ABC.

NBA Finals Game 3 Preview

 

Game 2 Recap

The Golden State Warriors clobbered the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 in game 2 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, California. Warriors forward Draymond Green lead the way 28 points 7 rebounds and 5 assist. Guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson added 17 and 18 points respectively.

The substitution players for the Warriors once again came up big, outscoring the Cavs bench 40-30. Substitutions players have been huge for the Warriors in these finals, in two games, the Cavs bench has been outscored by the Warriors 85-40.

Cavs forward Kevin Love suffered a concussion in game 2, and has already been ruled out for game 3. LeBron James committed 7 turnovers in the loss, but JR Smith is still struggling to put up shots. He only took six shots, bringing his shot total to just nine for the finals.

Smith has often been criticized for his willingness to shoot, now he is being chastised for the shots he wont take. It’s not all his fault, guard Kyrie Irving had only one assist in the loss, with just 10 points.

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Game 3

James couldn’t be happier to return to Cleveland. If James and the Cavs have any chance to climb back into this series, it’s has to be James that steps up. He will.

This is a warning, set up your DVR, and get your hard drive ready. James is under the rare pressure of playing with nothing to lose. Just like in 2012 when the Boston Celtics had a 3-2 lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, James responded with 45 points. Nothing short of a Herculean effort by James can help save this series.

Cavs must sit JR Smith at this point. He has committed an unforgivable basketball sin; he has become an unwilling shooter in the NBA Finals. That can’t be tolerated, he must sit down or sent home for the rest of the series. JR_Smith_Cavs_-_2015.jpg

Mo Williams could be a big addition for the Cavs if he is brought off the bench or in the starting line-up. Williams is quick and can put up points.

Defensively, and this might sound crazy, but the Cavs should make Curry take care of the ball all night. Curry can’t go the entire NBA Finals without his knees being tested . If the Cavs can force Curry to play a lot of minutes and do most of the ball handling for the Warriors, they might be able to effect his conditioning and health.

Prediction

Cleveland 98 Warriors 94

Must win for the Cavs, James will put on the performance of a lifetime. It should be a fun game to watch.