Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals. This is why these guys play, nothing is more important right now. But these finals more than any other in recent memory, have substantially more meaning. Win or lose these 2016 NBA Finals mean everything and more to both teams involved.
In much the same fashion as game 1, the Cavs routed the Raptors in front of their home fans. After winning game 1 by 31 points, the Cavs came back and smashed Toronto again. This time by 19, leading throughout and winning 108-89. This was the first time the Raptors had lost back to back games in the postseason after having battled it out with both Indiana and Miami.
Thank you so much for everything you have done in the last 12 months. Thank you for the countless millions you have brought back to Northeast Ohio and for having the city of Cleveland talked about daily in countless media outlets. Thank you for making Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov household names.
The Cleveland Cavaliers finally ran out of gas, despite a JR Smith-led late burst in game 6, and the Golden State Warriors are the 2015 NBA Champions. Looking at the two sides, it really shouldn’t even have been as close as it was. The Cavaliers were ravaged with injuries to key players, notably Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao, while the Warriors had a full roster to select from. The Cavaliers, of course, had the self-professed (and who can really argue with him) “best player in the world” in LeBron James and that was almost enough to win the title. Almost.
The Bill Russell award goes to the Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals and, since its inception, has been awarded to 28 different players. Michael Jordan won it six times, Magic Johnson, Shaq and Tim Duncan have won it three times and Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have all won it twice. On every occasion since 1969 the winner of the finals MVP (renamed in 2009) has also won the NBA title. On the very first occasion that the award was given, however, in 1969, it went to Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers. The 1969 NBA finals saw the Bill Russell-coached-and-led Boston Celtics defeat West’s Lakers 4-3 for Russell’s eleventh title.
So what was it that made the Warriors roll through the Cavs in Game 4 in Quicken Loans Arena? Was it the insertion of Andre Igoudala into the starting lineup over Andrew Bogut? Was it the short turnaround after Game 3 and the lack of energy from the Cavs? Could it have been the Warriors are finally proving what everyone says that they are just better than the Cavs? It’s possible that it could be a touch of them all.
Let’s be honest here. The Golden State Warriors have been blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers in two straight games. Or at least they would have, if the Cavs had even a second player who was worth something resembling a max contract. The scores may have read 100-108, 95-93 and 96-91, but Cleveland has dominated the games through the intensity of their role players. At the start of the season, who would have believed that, even playing alongside LeBron, Mosgov (finally shedding the image of that Blake Griffin dunk), Dellavedova and JR Smith would be leading a team that won 67 regular season games in the NBA finals?
Yes Golden State did win Game 1 but the series hasn’t started yet. It actually only begins when someone loses at home.
A late injury to Kyrie Irving might have been the costliest incident in last night’s game 1 of the 2015 NBA finals. Irving’s as yet undisclosed injury in overtime robbed the Cavs of their dynamic point guard who turned out to be a dynamic defender, with two notable blocks on MVP Steph Curry – one at the end of regulation setting the Cavs up for an attempted game winner.