“Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!” We should all take this quote from the great Bluto from Animal House to heart.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost a heart breaking and I mean soul crushing game on Wednesday, collapsing in the final three minutes when the game looked to be going the Cavs way. The game was in the grasps of Cleveland, looking to throw a wrench in the sweep talk by the Golden State Warriors. But, that did not happen. The Cavs couldn’t get a basket to save their lives and Kevin Durant played like Kevin Durant. The Cavs are down 3-0.
But, the Cavs are used to being down against the Golden State Warriors. As every Cleveland fan can remember, the Cavs were down 3-1 last season, looking like they would be once again taken out by the Warriors. Though, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had different ideas. Those two led the Cavs to a historic comeback that netted Cleveland its ever-eluding championship. So, why can’t the Cavs do it again, this time needing four wins in a row?
Take for example Game 3 and both team’s three ball shooting during the NBA Finals. The Warriors made 16 three-point shots on a 48.5% clip in Game 3. Over three games in the Finals, they have averaged 15.3 threes at a 42.2% clip. In the regular season, the Warriors averaged 12 threes a game at 38.3% clip. So, why can’t the Warriors move back to their average and shoot worse from behind the arc? The Cavs made 12 threes in Game 3, but shot it at just a 27.3% clip. Over the three games in the Finals, the Cavs average just 10.3 threes a game at a 29.8% clip. In the regular season, Cleveland averaged 13 threes a game, shooting them at a 38.4% clip. Why can’t we expect the Cavs to make more threes and at a better percentage?
Now, look at the individual performances of two of the more important players in the NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. In the regular season, Irving averaged 25.2 points a game on 47.3% shooting, including making 2.5 threes a game at a 40.1% clip. But in the three games of the NBA Finals, Irving is averaging 27 points a game on 45.9%, while making just 1.7 threes a game on a 29.4% clip. Why can’t we expect the Cavs point guard to improve his shooting efficiency? In the regular season, Kevin Durant averaged 25.1 points on 53.7% shooting, while making 1.9 threes a game on a 37.5% clip. But in three games of the NBA Finals, Durant is averaging 34 points a game on 56.1% shooting, including making 3.7 threes a game at a 52.4% clip. Could Durant return his average and cool down for the rest of the series?
There are many examples of ways the Cavs can improve and the Warriors regress. So, why can’t they? Cleveland has been in this position before and it seems, especially with James and Irving, they play their best ball when their backs are against the wall. This is no time to cower and give up on the series. These are the 2016 NBA champions we are talking about. The same team, who came back from 3-1 deficit to beat the 73-win Warriors.
Yes, the deck is stacked against the Cavs. But, why give up now with these guys? I will stick with them to the end and I hope you will too, because these guys deserve it. Because never forget that the Cavs are the World Champions until they are taken down!