Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Warriors - Cavaliers Game Five: The Best (Team) Of All Time Beat The Best (Player) Of All Time

The players also mess with Barnett
A few disjointed thoughts from the end of the basketball season.

> I'm very glad this series is over, because I kept watching in on treadmills, and then running too hard and too long from being amped up about the game. Skin was falling off my feet after tonight's clincher. If this had gone any deeper, I think I'd have blown my hamstrings.

> Make no mistake about it; with the exception of Kyrie Irving doing what he normally does on the road (aka, not enough), the Cavs played out of their minds tonight. JR Smith was phenomenal. Tristan Thompson had his second-best game of the Finals. Deron Williams had moments when he looked like he belonged in the NBA. Kevin Love had foul trouble, but also had plenty of good moments in the second half, with his dirty old white guy game getting Dub bigs in foul trouble. Tyronn Lue made good use of his timeouts and even got James some rest without disaster occurring.

None of it mattered because the Dubs are just better by a clear margin, but Cleveland never went away. Against what might be the best team in NBA history, playing in front of the best home crowd in the Association, that's no small matter.

> You have to love how athletes motivate themselves. Kevin Durant, in the post-game locker room celebration caught on local radio, actually started going down the "proved them all wrong" motif, as if the prevailing wisdom wasn't that the Dubs won the championship the moment he signed. Honestly, all of these guys need to be the underdog. It's a little disturbing.

> It will be forgotten in the wash of Durant's MVP and Stephen Curry being Stephen Curry, but Andre Iguodala was a monster tonight. Made his threes, set the tone in the game-changing second quarter with hammer dunks that seemed to repudiate what James did to him in the closing moments of Game Seven last year, and made James work for his ungodly numbers. It says something to the utter impossibility of this team that a guy who was the best player on playoff teams can more or less show up at random and give this team a charge. He also had the best plus/minus of any Dub in the Finals.

> David West, Matt Barnes, JaVale McGee and James Michael McAdoo all have one more ring than Charles Barkley now. But they are still chasing Adam Morrison.

> James averaged a triple double in the Finals, and might have been the only Cav who was within hailing distance of a positive plus/minus. Tonight, he was Cleveland's whole hope late, and more or less took advantage of small ball lineups to just impose his will repeatedly on forays into the paint. But the nature of that kind of offense is that everyone else gets stale, and when you miss, you have two guys in the corners for spacing that aren't getting back in time to dissuade the Dubs from getting 3 for your 2. I don't have a better idea than what the Cavs did; they stayed in the picture. But I do know that all series long, the Warriors scored easier points, and the team that scores easier points almost always wins.

> There is, honestly, no good reason why these teams won't do this again next June. Golden State isn't old, thin, injury-prone or complacent; they share the ball and seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company. They might eventually lose some of their home court roar as the fans get spoiled and the arena goes to San Francisco, and at some point Klay Thompson has to fix his jumper, but they just went 16-1, FFS. They could be a lot worse next year and still win easily. As for Cleveland, they lost one game in three series despite not having home court in the conference finals, and while a handful of teams in the lEast seem to know what they are doing and have assets to rub together, the main strategy still seems to be Wait Until James Breaks Down. Which doesn't appear to be happening. Dude just averaged a triple double in the Finals and all. Yeesh.

> David West in the post-game sounded like he was about to lead a Baptist revival on the merits of teamwork and ball movement. Let's just say I would not be surprised if he's the last talented vet to take below market value to come pull bench duty and ring out with the Dubs.

> I get that people across the nation are sour on the Dubs act, and feel like they've ruined hoop with their 3 for 2 ways and Durant poaching, but to feel that way is to undersell the rank misery that was inflicted on this area for, well, nearly the entire time between Rick Barry and Stephen Curry. Which brings me to my final point: Tim Roye and Jim Barnett. Roye has been doing play by play for this team for 20 years, while Barnett has been here for 30, and I have to tell you... they are delightful. Enthusiastic, always centered on the game, rooting for good plays over everything, praising opponents while never trashing the efforts of the home squad, not afraid to question the refs but never to the point of overkill... honestly, just one of the best teams I've ever heard. And they *love* this team, and this team loves them.

In the post-game radio, Curry and Durant both make time for their local radio guys, thank them for their service, clearly know them personally, and willingly delay the national media to express the way they feel. Roye and Barnett have the same joy in their voices and hearts for Patrick McCaw (the rookie who gave the team big help in the fourth) and McAdoo as anyone else. They know that what they are watching is rare and wonderful, they know what they used to watch instead of this, and they are *grateful*. In a world of sports media guys trying to get over and/or make a national name for themselves, Roye and Barnett want nothing more than to cover this team, because they truly love basketball, and if you love basketball, you want to be near this team.

So while I'm glad the Dubs won because I love watching them play, and I'm happy for the players and the fans... well, I'm most happy for Roye and Barnett. They watched this team when everyone else could, and did, look away. They now get to see what might be the best team ever, up close, for a living, while doing a great job of covering the game. It honestly couldn't happen to better people.

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