Thursday, June 2, 2016

Full Court Press 6.2.16: No Excuses #NBAFinals #Cavs

No Excuses
By Randy Groce, @ImissWiggins

The first Super Bowl I watched was the one that featured the '85 Bears vs the New England Patriots. The first World Series I ever watched was the Cardinals vs the Twins in '87. The first NBA Finals I ever watched was in '87 which featured the Lakers vs the Celtics.

For 31 years I've been a sports fan and this is our best chance of winning a championship. I'm not excited. I'm not overly anxious. I'm a fan, a Cleveland sports fan, who has absolutely no impact on the outcome, so I'm prepared for anything to happen. The minute game 6 of last years Finals ended we all felt we'd be back this year.

For as much as you can be after playing 96 games, the Cleveland Cavaliers enter the 2016 NBA Finals healthy. Add in the ingredients of being hungry, determined, and having the best player in the world on their team, the Cavs appear to be ready to break the 52 year drought of bringing Cleveland a world championship.

What better way to do that than to defeat the team that beat you in last year's championship round? The Golden State Warriors who defeated a severely depleted Cavs team last year, came back this year better than last. Steph Curry won another MVP award, this time unanimously, while improving his scoring average from 23 points per game to 30 points per game and the Warriors team broke the NBA single season win record. 

As good as both of these teams are, I could flood this entire article with numbers and stats but most of them you already know and a few of the others won't mean much once the series starts. Although these two teams feature the #1 and #2 top players in the game, the series will come down to what their teammates do. LeBron and Steph are going to score and there's nothing the other team can do to stop it, but allowing Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert to sneak in a 20 point game here and there will kill you. The "experts" will make predictions because that's what they're paid to do, but we're talking about a series which features a matchup in which either team could sweep or win in 7. 

In my humble opinion, there are two players that can swing this series in favor of their team.....

Klay Thompson and Kevin Love.

If Klay is making 6-7 threes a game and has a few of those 15-20 point quarters the Cavs will be in serious trouble. Having to pay extra attention to him frees up guys like Draymond Green or Harrison Barnes. Kevin Love is probably the highest paid "X factor" in NBA history, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. His role on this team is huge even though he's basically the Cavs' number three scoring option. When he's involved in the offense and grabbing rebounds and launching full court passes, he's locked in. My concerns for him is when he settles for jump shots instead of being more physical and attack the rim or take advantage of more post up opportunities.
Defensively, Love truly tries hard he's just not that good at it. Regardless of how good he's playing offensively, if he's repeatedly getting beat on the other end and those shots going in for the Warriors are three pointers, he might not see much action in 4th quarters in this series. Golden State will attack him relentlessly, and it's up to him to dig deep and fight. I've doubted him all season, but for this series I think he'll answer the call. 

As a fan there are two ways to view this. You can be satisfied no matter what and be proud that you have a competitive team that will be around for years. You can also be the type of fan that feels the only way to feel satisfied if if the team wins it all. Championship or bust. I fall in line with the first one. I'm not defeated, but I'm used to the losing and I've learned to enjoy the ride. I'll compliment my team and rip them in the same paragraph. I'm a fan. I've been one for 31 years. I want to see good basketball. I want to see maximum effort put out by every single guy that gets on the floor. If I can get that, I'll be satisfied win or lose. The Cavs are healthy, locked in, focused, and determined. They have a loaded roster and the best player in the world. Based on their standards, not mine, they should win it all this year.

No excuses. Go Cavs!

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