Here is a link to my Sunday column, a preview of Game 5 between Warriors and Cavs. The full text runs below:
You feel it. Something huge has shifted in the NBA Finals. Use the tectonic-plates metaphor and imagine parts of the Earth moving. Moving in the Warriors’ favor.
Until Game 4, the finals were all wrong. For the Warriors. Too close for comfort. Closer than necessary. The Warriors were down 2-1 to an inferior team. No offense intended. Not saying the Cavaliers are an inferior group in general, just inferior to the Warriors.
Every game was a gang war, and the Cavs, to their eternal credit, were the tougher gang. They kept the Warriors from running. Kept them from flying high. Made them earthbound. Turned the Warriors from eagles to earthworms. And the Warriors, resignedly, accepted earthworm status until the big shift which involved a little shift — as in going small. But you know all that.
And now the Warriors are the Warriors again, and the Cavs are what they always were. Limited. Or as one writer called them, LeBron and the Pips.
So, I’m saying — and if I’m wrong, shove a virtual pie in my face — the Cavs are done. Flat line. Ready for the postmortem and the autopsy. RIP to a valiant team.
Because the Warriors are better and always have been. The Warriors are a complete team. When you get down to it the Warriors are two complete teams — big Warriors and small Warriors. Heck, they may be three teams. Could be a third team lurking there we haven’t even seen. Ready to appear if needed.
Because, after going small, the Warriors finally can run and do run and will run. And the Cavs are all done in, as in “gassed” — LeBron James’ word. They no longer can chase the Warriors. Cavs head coach David Blatt is basically using a seven-man rotation either because he’s stubborn or he’s a realist — he has only seven worthwhile players. The lack of players is not his fault, by the way. You know about all the Cavs’ injuries.
The result is a team on life support. The Cavs don’t merely walk the ball up the court. Sometimes, they crawl the ball up the court. You want to give them an oxygen break. You want to apply a cold compress to their collective forehead. You want to say a prayer over them.
The Warriors will win because the Cavs can’t shoot. Their shooting is grotesque. And this applies to James, as well. He has lost his outside shot. Too tired to aim right. And even his drives are imprecise and crude. So many layups that don’t go in. Just lay there.
The Cavs take 3s. The Cavs miss 3s. Think of J.R. Smith shooting his team out of games. Think of all the bad basketball decisions Smith makes. Then shake your head.
The Warriors will win because the Warriors can handle the Cavs’ big center Timofey Mozgov. Most of the time in Game 4 he was guarding Andre Iguodala. I’m not kidding. I sat in my perch at the “Q” and peered down at the court and watched Mozgov run after Iguodala — not so well. Mozgov left the rim unprotected and Iguodala scored 22 points. Good deal for the Warriors all around.
And one other thing. Although Mozgov tries hard and can dunk like nobody’s business, he has no moves underneath the hoop. Just about every time James tosses the ball to him inside, Mozgov drops it or fumbles it or treats it like a foreign object he’s never met. He doesn’t exactly qualify for the All Hands Team.
Because the Warriors administered the only blowout in this series, that 103-82 demolition job on Thursday night in Cleveland. The Warriors are capable of demolishing the Cavs. The Cavs can’t demolish the Warriors.
Can the Cavs miraculously win this series? I suppose so. I write this begrudgingly, not confident in making this case.
The Cavs can win if they grab a million more rebounds than the Warriors’ small team and get a bunch of “put-back” baskets. Certainly possible.
The Cavs can win if they sink a bunch of 3s and the Warriors go cold. Maybe possible.
The Cavs can win because they got one extra rest day — Saturday — and James and Matthew Dellavedova used that time to return from the dead. Lots of chicken soup and bed rest and possible blood transfusions.
The Cavs can win if James dashes into a phone booth — do phone booths still exist? — and pulls on a blue outfit with a flaming red “S” on the chest and goes absolutely nuts, doing things no human ever has done before.
Like leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Question: Have you ever once in your life used the expression “in a single bound?” It’s one of those things you read but never say. “Eschew” is another one of those. Sports writers write “eschew.” “He eschewed the jump shot at crunch time.” But no one ever says eschew.
So, can James take over this series in a single bound? Entirely possible. But, he’s so done in, so kaput, he’s not capable of a half bound or a quarter bound — i.e. he’s not even a quarter bounder. I see James giving his heroic best, that frown on his noble face, and finally acknowledging defeat.
Warriors in six.
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