The first Finals game at The Q in eight years was a star studded affair. Rascal Flatts sang the national anthem, and Ohio sports legends Urban Meyer, Jim Brown, Mark Price, Jim Thome, and Larry Nance were in attendance. The boys in wine and gold didn’t disappoint as they led from the opening tip until the final buzzer sounded.
Posts Tagged ‘Lebron James’
We couldn’t podcast Sunday night. Our voices were all too ragged from shouting our way through the GREATEST CAVALIERS VICTORY OF ALL TIME. A day later, Ben Werth, Tom Pestak and I stocked up on Earl Grey with honey and stepped into the podcast studio for a bull session worthy of the Cavs’ GOAT game (so far). We discussed our game two experience, the adjustments that both teams can make going into game three, the Delly factor, Steph Curry, Cleveland’s offense, Tristan Thompson, the Buzz in northeast Ohio, David Blatt holding his own against the NBA coaching Golden Boy, LeBron Raymone James, and — of course — memes. Enjoy.
After more than a week of off-days, re-hashed narratives, overheated theories, injury smokescreens, supreme anticipation and absolutely zero actual basketball games, Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals finally got underway last night at Oakland’s Oracle Arena. What was advertised by many (outside of the State of Ohio anyway) as the beginning of an expectedly lopsided series between the “best team in the NBA” and the “best player on the planet” was decidedly much closer in its outcome.
The Cavs shelled the Warriors early, building as much as a 14 point lead on their wide-eyed hosts, before letting Golden State’s deep stable of bench workhorses charge their way back into the fray by halftime. From there, both squads traded blows, drawing even at the end of each successive quarter, and forcing the issue to overtime, to the delight of impartial fans of the game and network executives who suffered through a paucity of Conference Finals contests.
For Warrior fans, the final shot of regulation that fell just centimeters short resulted in a sigh of relief at dodging the closest of calls. For Cavalier fans, a groan at seeing a small window for stealing the opening game on their opponent’s floor evaporate into five of perhaps the toughest minutes of the season. After all, close rarely counts, and sometimes, the small stuff just sweats you.
OMG The finals are here! Northeast Ohio is buzzing. Excitement and anticipation are in the air. After nine days of hype, David Wood, EvilGenius and I jumped in the podcast booth to give a hard core Finals breakdown: stopping LeBron and Steph, the rebounding battle, the turnover breakdown, x-factors, Steph’s Horoscope, the Shaq factor, prop bets, and more. Are you as excited as I am!?
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers as they are about to tip-off their NBA Finals match-up against the Golden State Warriors…
1.) A lot of talk leading up to the Finals has been about each team’s likely inability to shut down the opposing team’s star player: LeBron James for the Cavaliers and Stephen Curry for the Warriors.
Just ask James how to stop Curry and he gives you the same answer as when you ask him how the Warriors might slow him down: “You can’t.”
The Finals will come down to more than just James vs. Curry, but it’s still tough predicting how these teams will attack each other — and how more or less likely one team is to shut down the other — come down to two things: 1.) the small sample size of head-to-head match-ups between these two teams and 2.) the fact that this is now the third (at least) iteration of the Cleveland Cavaliers that we’ve seen this season, so who knows what the Cavs will bring?
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Okay, confession time. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers. Still. To this day.
In particular, as these playoffs have continued, I’ve found myself increasingly suspicious of the narrative that LeBron James is pulling along his current crop of overmatched Cavalier teammates kicking and screaming on his one-man mission to return to the Finals. Clearly, James has been huge for the Cavaliers. No one is arguing against that. It just seemed like there was a difference between this year’s team and James’s previous Cavaliers squads, particularly the one that made the 2007 Finals — that even if the Cavs were leaning on James more in these playoffs (and your can’t argue that James’s 2015’s playoff usage rate of 36.4% is a substantial uptick from the 29.7% usage he posted in the 2007 playoffs) that his teammates this year were performing better in support of James.
Still buzzing after the Cavs 118-88 Game 4 Win over the Atlanta Hawks that moved the Cavaliers four wins away from the city’s first major professional sports championship in 51 years, Cory, Tom, Nate, Mallory and I had a little chat about your Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) At what point in the season did you start to believe that this team could return to the NBA Finals?
Nate: It happened twice. The first time was when the Cavs dismantled Memphis on March 25th to win by 22 points. The Grizz were the second best team in the West at the time, and the Cavs gave them one of their signature third quarter floggings. Kevin Love scored 22 on 13 shots; Irving, 24; LeBron, 20; Moz, 14… After Kelly’s killer armbar, we all had our doubts, but David Wood’s revelations about the Cavs super D lineups (featuring TT, Delly, Bron, and Shump) gave me faith. I was fully aboard the Finals bandwagon again after Game two versus the Bulls. I knew if the Cavs could get a split at home without J.R., they’d be OK. Cleveland jumped all over the Bulls, racing out to a 20 point lead in the first quarter, and LeBron rediscovered his post game. Cleveland turned into a team that’s impossible to beat with a lead in the fourth, and I knew the Bulls were hosed.
Recap: Cavs 114, Hawks 111 OT (or There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South)Monday, May 25th, 2015
The Atlanta Hawks franchise proved that the New South still has the same sensibilities as the Old South with their duo of race scandals during the preseason. Many, including myself, assumed that the distractions off the court would affect the performance of the team, and they proved all doubters wrong, posting a franchise record 60-22 season. An overlooked stat of the Hawks was that they had the lowest point differential in league history for a 60-win team. They fielded four all-stars, but no superstars in a sport dominated by them and come late Tuesday night, their 2014-15 season will probably be swept away like red clay dust from the back porch and they’ll be Gone with the Wind.
In 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman marched his union forces through Atlanta, destroying nearly everything in his path, and leaving the city not much more than a smoldering ruin. A little more than 150 years later, LeBron Raymone James led his rag-tag band of teammates on their own journey to do some damage in Atlanta, but this time it was merely the Hawks and their home court advantage that went up in flames.
With a long list of wounded, including two of his “big three” partners, LBJ found a way to marshall all of the remaining King’s men and exhort them into helping him thoroughly dismantle Atlanta’s once mighty basketball team. The latest casualty was Kyrie Irving, whose legs had finally betrayed him during the initial skirmish of Game 1. However, the Cavs “next man up” philosophy ensured that there would be no drop off in intensity or will. And they would show the Hawks no mercy, torching them on their own floor, in front of their disbelieving fans (many of whom fled for the exits to escape the conflagration).
What began as a fairly hotly contested game in the first half, turned in the third quarter when the Cavaliers cranked up their defense to smothering. Using a 24-9 run to push their lead out to 20, the Cavs blew away the Hawks, and blazed their way to a commanding 2-0 series lead.