Kevin Love vs. Draymond Green

In this video post I discuss the Kevin Love and Draymond Green matchup. The Cavaliers are down 2-0 in their series, and a big reason is the disparity in play between Love and Green.

 

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Cavs Podcast

Hey guys! In this week’s podcast I discuss the NBA Finals and what the Cleveland Cavaliers can do to get back in the series. I will be doing more podcasts and video reactions on the NBA Finals in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Is 2-4 a Big Deal?

Jerry West recently came to the defense of LeBron James amid the media scrutiny of James’ Finals record. While James is appearing in his seventh Finals, he has only amassed a 2-4 record. James’ shortcomings have been a big talking point as he is now in danger of falling to 2-5 depending on the outcome of this year’s series. After last year’s Finals loss, James said he would rather not make the playoffs if it meant getting to the Finals and losing.

(James’ last NBA Finals loss came in 2015 against the Golden State Warriors. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

James says his record doesn’t bother him, but the media’s constant acknowledgement of his failures can’t be something he’s deaf to.

The media’s obsession of James’ 2-4 record has a lot to do with the constant comparisons to Michael Jordan, who is 6-0 in the Finals.

(James has often been compared to Michael Jordan throughout his career. Photo courtesy of slam online)

James may be the best player since Jordan, but his teams have not always been championship level. For all his greatness, James has only had a 50 percent chance of winning in three of his Finals appearances. He’s also never played for a team with more than a 2-in-3 chance of winning. Three of the teams he competed with had less than a 33 percent chance. These teams include the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Spurs in 2007 and the Warriors in 2015, and the Miami Heat against the Spurs in 2014. Because of this, it’s just not sensible to harp on his record.

That’s not to say that his Finals record is insignificant. After all, the 2010-2011 Miami Heat team should have beaten the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals that year. James’ disappearing act was the biggest reason his team failed to win it all.

(The Dallas Mavericks win the Larry O’Brien trophy in the 2011 Finals. Image courtesy of csmonitor)

Outside of that Finals loss, James has played well in all other appearances and has done everything in his power to will his teams. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t always worked to his benefit.

West’s recent defense of James seems appropriate considering his own history. West has gone to the Finals nine times and has a 1-8 record.

(West hasn’t experienced much success in the Finals, losing eight of nine times. Photo courtesy of Focused Shooter)

He knows better than anyone the criticism James faces. West just wants us to recognize that despite James’ uneven record, we are still witnessing greatness.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

This year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are appearing in the 14th NBA Finals rematch in history. In the previous 13 rounds, the defending champions have won six times. Let’s take a look at some of the rematches from the past 30 years.

2014: Miami Heat Vs. San Antonio Spurs

In the 2013 NBA Finals, the Heat and Spurs battled in one of the most epic series in recent memory. With the Spurs leading 3-2, San Antonio appeared to have Game 6 won when they went up five points with less than a minute to go. The combination of missed free throws by the Spurs, along with some huge 3-pointers from Miami, changed the narrative of the series.

The Heat won in overtime and went on to win Game 7 on the road. The Spurs’ collapse fueled them the following season. In the 2014 NBA Finals rematch, the Spurs dismantled the Miami Heat, 4-1, while shooting a historic 52.8 percent from the field throughout the series.

1998: Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls

In the 1997 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan led the Bulls to a 4-2 series win over the Utah Jazz to earn his fifth ring. When both teams returned to the Finals the next year, John Stockton and Karl Malone looked poised to exact revenge. The series outcome ended more dramatically than anyone could expect, as Jordan hit a shot for the ages in Game 6.

With the win, the Bulls earned their sixth title in eight years and Jordan claimed his sixth Finals MVP. Jordan would retire in the following months to effectively end the Bulls’ era of dominance.

1989: Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers

In the 1988 Finals, the Lakers defeated the Pistons in a competitive seven games series. The following year, the Pistons were eager to return to the Finals to correct their mistakes. After struggling during the 1988-1989 regular season, the Pistons traded Adrian Dantley to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aguirre. Aguirre’s presence improved their offense drastically and helped catapult them back to the Finals to meet the Lakers. What happened was far from what fans wanted to see. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Lakers lost both Byron Scott and Magic Johnson to hamstring injuries. The Pistons would capitalize and sweep the Lakers to capture the title.

1985: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is one of the most well known rivalries in all of sports. In the 1980s, it featured two of the biggest stars in Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It also transcended sports, as it had underlying racial and historical undertones. After Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores lost to Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA tournament, there had been much anticipation for an NBA Finals showdown. Bird got his revenge in 1984 as he defeated Johnson’s Lakers in seven games to win the championship. In 1985, both teams returned to the Finals in what was surely a memorable series. This time around, the Lakers bested the Celtics in six games to claim the trophy.

 

 

Game 2 of the Finals

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are preparing for Game 2 of the NBA Finals. After a Warriors 104-89 blowout win on Thursday night, the pressure is on Cleveland to even up the series before heading home. The Cavaliers have a tough task ahead of them but LeBron James has shown he can step up to the challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been somewhat of a painful watch – Cavs still have plenty of time, down just 11 – but look disjointed

— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 6, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cavs go on a 30-19 run to take an 82-62 lead at the end of the third. James played fairly well offensively but he struggled defensively and had seven turnovers. The Warriors were able to build their lead without big contributions from Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cavaliers lose to the Warriors in another blowout 110-77. To make things worse, Kevin Love went out in the third quarter and is questionable for Game 3. Outside of the first quarter, the Cavaliers didn’t show any sustained effort on the defensive end. They never got into an offensive rhythm, as they shot 35 percent from the field. Golden State overwhelmed the Cavaliers in the second half and the they made no adjustments to counter the onslaught. The mental fortitude just wasn’t there for the Cavaliers. Too often, players were blaming each other for miscues and their body language was negative. Their play at home must be completely different. The ball has to move and they have to stop over helping on defensive assignments. Cleveland can get back in this series if they come with a renewed sense of focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost Doesn’t Count

With the Cavaliers back in the Finals for the second time in as many years, it’s no secret that the city of Cleveland is desperately seeking a series win. Cleveland holds the unlucky distinction as the city with the longest championship drought in North American sports. The last title in Cleveland came in 1964, when the Cleveland Browns stunned the Baltimore Colts to win the NFL Championship.

(Cleveland Browns celebrate title victory. Photo courtesy of Dailykos)

The 52 years since then have been tough for the city. There have been times Cleveland has come close, though. Unfortunately, close hasn’t been close enough.

2007 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs

After winning their playoff rounds against the Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets, and Detroit Pistons, the Cavaliers found themselves in the 2007 NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Cavaliers were ill-prepared for the challenge as the Spurs’ featured lineup of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen, overwhelmed the young Cleveland team. Without a second go-to scorer on the roster, the Spurs were able to pack the paint and prevent LeBron James from attacking the basket. James shot 36 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range in the series. The Spurs went on to win 4-0.

 

2015 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

(James walks off the court after losing 2015 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. Photo courtesy of CBS news)

In James’ first season back with the Cavaliers after returning from a four-year stint with the Miami Heat, James helped carry Cleveland to its first Finals appearance since 2007. The Cavaliers finished the regular season 53-29 and earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference. After blitzing through the conference playoffs, injury issues became the story when Kyrie Irving went down in Game 1 of the Finals. Kevin Love had already been lost to a dislocated shoulder in the first round against the Boston Celtics.

A Warriors win seemed inevitable with the lack of talent surrounding James. Despite the team’s futility in the Finals, James was extraordinary. He averaged 35.5 points per game, 8.8 assists, and 13.3 rebounds. This marked the first time in NBA history that a player led both teams in all categories in a Finals series. Despite losing in six games, James put on a performance that will probably never be replicated.

(The Golden State Warriors capture the 2015 NBA Title. It is the franchise’s first in over 40 years. Photo courtesy of Aljazeera)

1986 AFC Championship: Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos

The 1986 AFC title game between these two teams is considered one of the most memorable games in NFL postseason history. The Browns and the Broncos were the No.1 and No.2 seeds, respectively. Both teams had scares in the divisional rounds, with Cleveland having to fend off the New York Jets, and the Broncos facing elimination against the New England Patriots. The previous struggles set the stage for an exciting AFC match. In a game that became known as “The Drive,” quarterback John Elway pulled off one of the most improbable wins ever. Trailing 20-13 in the waning moments of the game, the Broncos, starting at their own 2-yard line managed to complete a 98-yard drive for the tying touchdown. Denver would go on to win in overtime, 23-20.

1987 AFC Championship: Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos

The 1987 team that reached the 1987 AFC Championship may have been the most talented Browns teams ever constructed. It had the offensive tools to rival anyone and a staunch defense. Unfortunately, the Browns lost to the Broncos for the second consecutive year in what classically became known as “The Fumble” game. After Denver’s John Elway led a 75-yard drive for a touchdown to go up 38-31, the Browns had a chance on their next offensive possession. The Browns’ quarterback Bernie Kosar led the team down the field and had an opportunity to score a touchdown at the 8-yard line. When running-back Earnest Byner took the ball and cut to the inside, he was stripped by defensive back Jeremiah Castille. The fumble sealed the game and the Browns lost 38-33.

1989 AFC Championship: Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos

The Cleveland Browns were appearing in the AFC Championship round for the third time in four years .They weren’t considered as good as the previous teams, but fans were hopeful that the team could finally get over the hump. The addition of coach Bud Carson, who was a defensive mastermind, was thought to be the final ingredient for the team to reach the Superbowl. The outcome was more of the same. The Browns lost 37-21 in an uninspiring effort. The Cleveland Browns have not gotten back to the AFC Championship since.

1995 World Series: Cleveland Indians vs. Atlanta Braves

The Cleveland Indians finished the shortened 1995 regular season with a stunning 100-44 record  while winning Cleveland’s first pennant in 41 years. That season was cemented as one of the greatest in MLB history. The Indians entered as favorites in their World Series match-up with the 90-54 Atlanta Braves, but ultimately lost the series 4-2.

1997 World Series: Cleveland Indians vs. Florida Marlins

The Cleveland Indians won the AL Central with a record of 86-75. With the departures of key players like Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga and Kenny Lofton, nobody expected much from this team. Once the playoffs began, however, they stepped up in a big way. They defeated the New York Yankees in the Divisional round and defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Championship series. They gave the Florida Marlins, a wild card team, all they could handle in the World Series, but they were ultimately overpowered in the eleventh inning of Game 7.

With all the misery Cleveland has experienced throughout these last five decades, James is under more pressure than ever to bring a championship to ‘The Land.’ Here’s to hoping 2016 will be the year.