I mean… they can’t really do this, right? They can’t win this game tonight, right?
In Golden State? With a pissed-off and refocused Warriors team? Needing to replicate the preposterous success they had offensively for all but two minutes the last two games?
LeBron can’t do what he did last year, right? Kyrie can’t keep torching this team, right? Love won’t stay that hot from the field, right? JR won’t hit five threes again, right?
They can’t do this, right?
I’m actually asking you guys. I need someone… someone rational and, frankly, sane… to tell me the Cavs can’t do this.
Because right now I can’t find a reason to say they won’t win this game.
I mean sure, there are plenty of reasons. It’s in Golden State. There’s still no answer for Durant. The Warriors play and shoot better at home. The Cavs roll players won’t play better on the road. Golden State is due to start hot and jump out to a near-insurmountable first quarter lead. It’s really hard to expect Love and JR to get that hot again. The Warriors will be more focused. All of that makes for a pretty simple, logical argument in Golden State’s favor.
But goddammit if it doesn’t feel a little weird after Friday night, right? It just… it feels a little funny, right? It kind of feels like the Cavs have, to a certain extent, righted the ship. Outside of those last two minutes in Game 3, the Cavs have been the better team this last week. They’ve controlled the pace and dictated the feel of these games. And while the Cavs playing their brand of basketball doesn’t feel nearly as dominant as when the Warriors play their brand, it is–in a way–a brand of basketball that feels more sustainable in the context of this series.
What I mean by that is that while, yes, the Warriors can get hot like no team in the history of the game, there is a way to counter that and to alter that pace. Cleveland can 1) hit shots on their own and prevent the fast breaks that Golden State thrives on, and 2) allow Durant to “take over”, thus getting the Warriors out of their “best” game.
On the flip side… the Warriors don’t necessarily have a counter to the Cavaliers playing their best brand of basketball. LeBron and Kyrie are always going to be able to beat the man in front of them more often than not. Always. No matter the pace of the game… no matter if Golden State is hitting shots on the other end… no matter if the Cavs roll players are hitting their shots… if LeBron and Kyrie get going and start hitting their shots, the Warriors don’t have a way to change the pace back in their favor.
That really, really matters. Because if the Warriors don’t jump out to a massive lead and the pressure starts to mount, the game is going to slow down and, therefore, favor the Cavs “best” pace. All of a sudden possessions are taking longer and fast breaks are limited and look… I’m just… I’m just saying that the two players I trust most in a tight, slowed down game are still wearing Cavaliers uniforms.
We’re an hour from tip now and I’m very firmly on the Cavs side right now.
I know it’s insane. I know it’s unlikely. I know I’ll probably look stupid in three hours.
But I think the Cavs are winning this game.
And yes… this series.