If this wasn’t the strangest game I’ve seen in 25 years…
The NBA Finals are a crazy, crazy place where all of the magnifying glasses are out in full force and there’s absolutely nowhere to hide. Whether you’re a prodigal son returning home and putting on a show for the ages, or a recently crowned MVP who is getting run off the court by an undrafted crocodile wrangler, there is no escape.
Steph Curry and the Warriors have gone from “Are they one of the best teams of all-time?” to “WTF? These guys are shook” in the space of a week.
Life comes at you fast in the NBA Playoffs, where months of hard work can be flushed down the toilet in the space of days. The upside? Seven game series’ without 0-3 scorelines always give you a chance to reinvent yourself and slide that nightmare narrative over to your opponent.
The Warriors have more than enough talent on the roster to win the NBA Finals and bring a championship back to the Bay Area for the first time in 40 years. Their biggest problem right now is seemingly urgency. On countless occasions over the course of the first three games, the Cavaliers have looked waaaaay hungrier than the Warriors have.
This guy has the body of a 75 year-old retired coal miner and has only been out-ranked on the hustle meter by the aforementioned crocodile wrangler.
LeBron James just might be the highest IQ basketballer of the past two decades and there’s a very, very good chance that he is quite happy walking the ball up the court, assessing what the defense is giving him and then surgically choosing which blue and yellow heart-shaped organ to remove next. Disrupting what has now reached “cheat code” type play is probably a good idea. Double the great one as he crosses half court and make Dellavedova raise the bar to 40/5/5 in Game 4.
Or make Shumpert score 40.
Or make JR Smith score 50.
At least make it a lot harder for LeBron to produce in the final period and/or overtime.
All of these outcomes are worth aiming for to replace the current “LeBron is single-handedly beating the shit out of the best team in the NBA” narrative. Let’s face it, the Warriors could go on to win this series 4-2 and LeBron would likely still be the favorite to take home the Finals MVP trophy.
But they aren’t getting to hold that trophy without some serious adjustments.
Game 3 was like watching a friend play a video game. With the game difficulty being turned up way too high, (Curry’s shooting woes) or being turned down way too low (LeBron’s dunks here and here) there was a strange sense of disorientation for all 48 minutes. Things were not going as expected on a number of fronts and while the Cavaliers had received praise for their Game 2 victory, it was fair to assume the “fun had come to an end” for Cleveland and all things would fall back into place.
Matthew “MyPlayer cheat code / crocodile wrangler” Dellavedova had seemingly found the magical 24-button cheat code combo that allowed him to transform himself from Dellavedova to “Delly” – the evolution of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and John Stockton combined.
The Warriors at any given moment during the game were just as likely as unlikely to bridge that 20 point deficit. Clearly there’s been no better team this season at scoring maximum points in minimal game time and that felt like it was always on the horizon in this game. But while the cattle were out there for Golden State, until Curry’s fourth quarter engagement no one looked like being able to seize the moment and commence the avalanche we’d seen so many times before, since November.
Veteran Warriors Andre Iguodala and David Lee were the only ones who appeared to play with genuine urgency throughout Game 3. They are meant to be the glue guys at best, it’s time the All Stars and All-NBA team members stepped up the the moment.
The Warriors and more notably Stephen Curry face their biggest challenge in a long, long time when they lace them up in Game 4 at the Q. It’s going to be an epic and while adjustments are super important, there’s only one word that is going to get them over the line.