NBA Finals: Can Cleveland make this a series?

When last we spoke the Golden State Warriors has just wrapped up a very thorough demolition of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday to take a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Finals. The first two games of this series at Golden State’s fearsome Oracle Arena have not been close to say the least. Cleveland is simply not playing winning basketball, the type of basketball that got them to this point. There’s too much iso-ball with four guys standing around watching LeBron James or Kyrie Irving dribble out the shot clock down and hoist up ill-advised shots. Still, this is a LeBron James-led team we’re talking about, is the two-time champ (and four-time MVP) really gonna let his team go out like this?! Let’s break it down and take a look at what the Cavs need to do to make this a series (and to make me not look like an idiot by predicting Cleveland would win it all.)

Cavs need to keep shooting

Shoot hot to get hot, right? The Cavaliers’ role players (Channing Frye and J.R. Smith in particular) need to keep shooting the rock. With Kevin Love doubtful for Game 3 due to a concussion, Frye should have ample opportunities to hoist ’em up from the three-point line. Tim Legler on NBA Radio above is right about the difference in the series being makes from non-stars on both teams. The Warriors’ role players have made their shots and Cleveland’s have not. LeBron’s been very so-so thus far in the Finals, but he has been doing his best to get his teammates involved and at some point their shots are gonna begin to fall. Speaking of LeBron…

LeBron’s gotta relax, pop a Xanax and remember that he’s a singular force of nature

King James at times has appeared downright meek on the offensive end. It won’t be easy for him, it’s the Finals, he’s being guarded by either Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala for large runs, but LeBron James needs to be much more aggressive on the drive and kicks. Get Iggy and Dray in foul trouble, dare to beat them off the dribble and kick it out to J.R., Channing, Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Delavedova or whomever. This is a man who took two games against the Warriors by himself in last year’s NBA Finals and who arguably should have been the Finals MVP. LeBron’s gotta turn off Foreigner’s Head Games and crank something to get hype to.

Kyrie Irving must be the superstar he is purported to be

Kyrie Irving has gone AWOL in this series. While this is largely attributable to Klay Thompson’s steady defensive effort and height advantage, Irving looks lost even with Klay not defending him. Say what you will about LeBron’s legacy, or the poor bastards in Cleveland that root for this team, but Kyrie Irving has the most to lose in this Finals. A year after fracturing his kneecap in Game 1 of the Finals, he’s out here, healthy, and doing nothing. His disappearance while not inexplicable, is bizarre in its thoroughness. He’s been an absolute ghost.

A reinforcement of a precedent, or a footnote to history?

One need only look back at last month’s Western Conference Finals and recall that the Oklahoma City Thunder had a commanding two-game lead on the Warriors and we all know how that wound up for the Thunder. Can Cleveland bolster that quasi-miraculous precedent set by the ‘Dubs? Probably not, but let’s face it: the only options for this team are to rally and storm back a la the Warriors in the previous round, or for the Cavs to become a footnote to the annals of history. An answer to a trivia question about who Golden State defeated in the 2016 Finals.

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