As the Conference Finals pass the midway point, we wanted to give some quick reactions and previews for the two series between the Warriors and Thunder as well as the Cavaliers and Raptors. But first, we owe our neighbors up north an apology.
An Apology to the Drakes:
Many (all?) pundits, including us at Head & Heart Sports, buried the Raptors after Game 2. The series is now tied 2-2 after back-to-back wins for the Raptors in Toronto. We wish our sincerest apologies to the Raptors, the city of Toronto, Drake, Justin Trudeau, and all of Canada.
Prediction for the Cavaliers-Raptors Best of Three:
Jordan Curet: That being said, the Cavaliers are probably going to bury you in two games so, enjoy this moment in the sun. Fragile team chemistry aside, the Cavs are still the better team and the Raptors got a small reprieve with Kevin Love sidelined for the better part of the second half after a weird referee-induced injury. Put the Cavs new “death lineup” back out there, and Cleveland will get back to their winning ways.
Nick Bair: It will be interesting to see if Cleveland’s new found team harmony keeps up while facing adversity for the first time this playoffs. If they somehow lose Game 5, things could get really interesting internally. While I want to believe in the scrappy Raptors, the Cavs should still comfortably win this series, although I would not be surprised if it goes to seven games. I might need to write another hockey article soon to regain our Canadian readers after H&H just doubled down on its “disrespect” for the north. Sorry Canada.
Reaction to Draymond’s Kick:
JC: From an entertainment standpoint, the photo from the moment Green kicks Adams is hilarious (true calm before the storm) and it was perfect to watch the Draymond-Russ back and forth over the last 48 hours ahead of a monumental game four. So, I don’t think anyone (except Adams) should be upset it happened and while strictly speaking kicking someone in the man-parts is probably a suspension-level offense, as a Golden State fan-boy, I am glad the NBA saw that Draymond has been kickin’ out for a long time. Plus, there is no way to get around the NBA having to factor in that the suspension of an All-Star mid-series would be history-altering. Outside of Oklahoma City, no one wants this match-up affected by the absence of a player.
NB: As chippy as the series has been, I agree that this play was not completely intentional. Also, the series is simply better if Draymond gets to keep playing. No one wants a 2007 Spurs-Suns scenario where a star player suspension swings the whole series. A word to Draymond though, please be wary of your fellow player’s privates. Intentional or not, it is just not cricket.
Preview of Warriors/Thunder Game 4 tonight:
JC: Our own Sean Demetrakis has predicted Thunder in 7, but being down 2-1 in a series is familiar territory for the Dubs. Twice before they have managed to come back, thanks to a few great tweaks in the game plan by the coaching staff (adjusted defensive schemes against Memphis; Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup against the Cavaliers) and stellar play by Curry and Thompson. I am a bit concerned about the apparent lack of viable coaching adjustments for this series (might be why I’m not an NBA coach), but I trust Kerr and Co. to earn their pay in that department. Likewise, I think Curry is still regaining his form after early playoff injuries and will have another supernova outburst sooner rather than later. The Thunder also shot 77% from the field in the third quarter and five of six from three when they put the game away for good. Even Dion-freaking-Waiters registered a +32 in 33 minutes of game time. All of that seems unlikely to happen again. The Warriors will find a way to win this decisive game four, regaining home-court and turning it into a best of three.
NB: This is a must-win for Golden State. I cannot see this Thunder team losing three straight games, so the Warriors better get it done tonight. One of the keys to this series has been turnovers, and if the Warriors can take care of the ball, I think they still have a good chance to find their rhythm and even up the series. That being said, if the Thunder get on a roll, watch out. This might be Russ & KD’s magnum opus. I expect the Warriors will come out tonight and remind all of us that they are the defending champions for a reason and win Game 4. Hopefully it will be a little closer than Game 3.
-Nick Bair & Jordan Curet
Photo Credit: mag.coreoo.eu