Wow. What a game, what a series, and what an NBA season. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the defending champion, record-setting 73 win Golden State Warriors. Here’s our reactions following an epic Game 7 including our winners, losers, and hottest takes.
Winner – Cleveland fans. Hats off to them for staying loyal to their sports teams despite being the butt of jokes for the past 50 years. They deserved this more than anyone (they also stole a fire truck, well done). The Land should not expect as much from the Browns. But you never know!
Loser – UNC Alumni: Harrison Barnes. James Michael McAdoo. Michael Jordan. Jordan Curet. Barnes’ inability to hit open shots cost the Warriors in Games 5, 6, and 7. He shot an astounding 5/32 in those three games. He is trash. I feel bad for McAdoo because he should have never seen the floor. The Draymond suspension and Bogut injury forced Steve Kerr to give him some playing time, which immediately proved a terrible decision. He scored a grand total of two points in Games 5 and 6 combined. Meanwhile, MJ is not just a loser for the possible end of his Crying Jordan memes. He now has to hear more and more about how LeBron is the GOAT instead of him. This must kill MJ the competitor, but LeBron now joins him as the only players ever with three rings, three Finals MVPs, and four regular season MVPs. Watch out for his return to the Hornets next season to take back his crown. And an LOL at our Jordan Curet for being the only Warriors fan at our site. Not a great day to be a Tar Heel.
Hot Take – The Spurs were the best team in the NBA this year and would have beaten the Cavs in the Finals. The Thunder found their game at exactly the right time and inched by the Spurs in Round 2. Props to the Thunder, but if they had played like that all year, the Spurs would have been prepared for them and beat them. The Spurs would have then exposed the Warriors for the frauds they were in the Western Conference Finals, and then Kawhi would have shut LeBron down again in the Finals to win another Finals MVP and show that he should have been the regular season MVP as well. KAWHI til you die.
Winner – LeBron James. Who can possibly question his place in the pantheon of the greatest of all time at this point? He led his team back from down 3-1 in the NBA Finals against the best regular season team of all time, and his block of Andre Iguodala in the closing minute of the fourth quarter should stand as the play that won them that game. Forget Kyrie Irving’s three; LeBron’s block was a superhuman defensive effort to put the fear of the King in the Warriors and maintained the tie. Did the Dubs even drive at the rim again after? LeBron put the team on his back, again, and this time got just enough help in the form of Irving to cross the finish line.
Loser – A toss up between Harrison Barnes and Kevin Love. Barnes will still get paid this offseason because of the money available to teams, but have we ever been able to watch such a precipitous decline in a player’s perceived value in real time? Every three Barnes missed over the course of the series was a referendum of him as a player. Meanwhile, Love proved to be the liability everyone thought he would be on defense (with the exception of one defensive stand on Curry) and could not even carry his weight on the offensive end to compensate. Love returning to Cleveland next season would be surprising, unless he is willing to accept his role as a known liability in the playoffs. And yes, he got a ring, but he was also the joke of the Finals and people openly called for him to be benched for the recently-reanimated corpse of Richard Jefferson. Not a good look.
Hot Take – LeBron and crew went back in time to steal Steph Curry’s mojo, a la Austin Powers. Curry has not looked right for all but a few, very brief moments these playoffs and yes, everyone is some level of injured by the time the Finals come around, but this kind of disappearing act is a hint at something more nefarious. That, or the guy got mugged off the ball every time down the court, but either way the regular-season MVP was brought allllll the way back down to earth as LeBron reasserted himself. On the plus side, remember how motivated the Warriors were after WINNING the championship last year? Imagine what kind of destruction they will bring next season after stewing in this loss for the offseason. Let this become the modern day Celtics/Lakers rivalry, please. Lastly, McAdoo is an innocent bystander is all of this, leave him alone. Poor guy was out there to rebound, play defense and set screens as Draymond Green-lite. His time to shine will come and it is ALWAYS a #GDTBATH (that being said, been a rough basketball year for me, I need a drink).
Winner – LEBRON JAMES! What an epic championship performance from the BEST player in the league. He once again led both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Everyone, myself included, wrote off James after Game 4 and gave him no chance at coming back to win this title. He has cemented his legacy as the greatest player of his era. He rose to the occasion and did what MVPs do, put the team on their back and take them to the next level. He scored 41 points in back to back games in Games 5 and 6 and then puts up a triple-double in Game 7. The most defining moment of his performance of the past three games has to be his block of Andre Iguodala. With the game tied and the Dubs poised to take the lead with a fast break lay-up, LBJ covered an incredible amount of ground and rose up what looked like three feet above Iguodala to send his layup flying off the backboard. Championship performance at its finest from an MVP. I’d also like to give a shout-out to J.R. Smith and his heart-felt press conference. You don’t see that kind of real raw emotion every day and that hit home for everyone who has ever known what it feels like to struggle and always have your parents and family in your corner fighting for you no matter what.
Loser – I hate to be cliche with the response but the loser here is the actual loser of the series, The Golden State Warriors. They put together the best regular season in the history of the storied NBA. 73 wins is absolutely no joke. Say what you want about regular season NBA basketball, but winning that many games doesn’t come easy. We saw some incredible basketball this season from Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. The three of them together is one of the best, if not the best, trio in the NBA. For this team to win 73 games, overcome a 3 to 1 deficit themselves in the Western Conference Finals, and have a 3 to 1 lead in the NBA Finals only to blow it and lose a Game 7 on their home floor is just crushing. This team should be remembered for everything they have done this season and they will only be remembered for being the first team in NBA history to blow a 3 to 1 Finals lead. My hat goes off to this team and everything they have accomplished this season.
Hot Take – Another hot day, another hot take. Steph Curry was the most undeserving MVP I have seen in awhile. Sure the guy set records in three pointers made, shot 90-50-40, and played for the team that set the record for most regular season wins ever, but where was he the last 3 games of this series? He didn’t have a terrible performance in Game 5 as he scored 25 points but he was only 8-21 from the field, no where near his regular season shooting percentage. He fouls out in Game 6 and gets ejected. Sure you can argue they were some ticky tack fouls but an MVP doesn’t put themselves into those kinds of positions at the championship level. And Game 7, where was the “MVP” Steph? He shot 4-14 from the distance, didn’t make a shot of the last 7 minutes of the game, and had a costly turnover that could have put the Dubs on top late in the game. MVPs rise to the occasion and get the job done for their teams. While the MVP chant was echoing throughout the Oracle for most of the series and especially last night, it was for the wrong guy.
- We had a small debate last night on who takes the Saddest Sports City crown after Cleveland’s redemption and have it narrowed down to either Washington, D.C. or Minnesota. If either of those cities were content knowing at least they weren’t Cleveland…well, time to get to work. Special Runner Ups: San Diego and Buffalo.
- One of the most interesting offseason discussions, beyond #KD2DC, will now be what changes these two franchises make. Both have starters who could leave in Barnes and Love, while their respective bench mobs will also be in flux (see you later, Festus Ezeli). How they reload and adapt will mean everything towards the fans getting a rubber match in the Finals next year.
- If LeBron’s motivation was to bring a championship to Cleveland, does that still drive him the same way going forward? The way the cap goes up over the next two years, LeBron will sign another contract that is essentially a one-year deal, meaning he could choose to join his BFFLs Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade (again) somewhere new. If he did, that somewhere would not be Cleveland.
- Golden State did not lose three in a row all year, until they did. They also had exactly nine losses in the playoffs and in the regular season. ILLUMINATI. But seriously, what does this loss do to their regular-season record and legacy? The 18-1 Patriots team has already been thrown out as the comparison, but the difference between the regular season/playoffs in basketball compared to football is like night and day. The Warriors accomplished more, but still fell short.
- Can there be any argument that Green’s suspension changed this series? Without a doubt, it was deserved, but how much did the Warriors miss him in Game 5, at home, when they had the chance to close this out up 3-1? Green’s true value to his team was crystallized by his absence and, while maybe short of an asterisk, it certainly played a part in the Cavalier’s win.
- We have to wait how long until next season? 😦
-Nick Bair, Jordan Curet & Sean Demetrakis
Photo Credit: mashable.com