I’ve got to be honest. Until Tuesday night I had maybe watched three games of the NBA playoffs. I’m going to blame it on the NBA. These matches have been nowhere near exciting.
There have been hints of greatness through the process. I actually tuned in for the Warriors’ overtime win against the Trailblazers. I hoped Portland would have a stronger showing than it did, but I guess like the team, I can take OT as a success and leave with that.
The conference finals have been the most impressive, but that isn’t saying much, not when the games in both the East and West have been won by complete dominance. There hasn’t been a single game where in the final quarter the losing team was estimated to make a comeback. Some of the games have been decided by half-time.
CAN THERE STILL BE AN UPSET IN THE EAST?
Never would I have imagined Toronto putting up this strong of a fight. The Raptors had me actually believing they could pull off an upset until Wednesday night. They dominated the Cavs in Games Three and Four to come out in Game Five looking like a deer in headlights. The Raptors will have home-court advantage for Game Six on Friday night. After a subpar performance in Game Five, I think they will put out all the stops and tie the series 3-3. Unfortunately I don’t see the finals in Toronto’s future.
It still won’t be a walk in the park for the Cavaliers. In order to close out the series they need more than just Lebron James. Fans saw James carry the team on his back in last year’s finals with both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving suffering injuries. In Cleveland’s two losses to Toronto, Love and Irving weren’t making the impact required of them by the team.
73 WINS DON’T MEAN A THING WITHOUT A RING
There really are no words to explain the situation in the West. It was a given that Oklahoma City would be Golden State’s toughest opponent. They had been throughout the regular season, but to be down 3-1. I’ll leave it to Golden State head coach Steve Kerr to explain that one.
“We didn’t play very intelligently,” Kerr said in the Game Four postgame conference. “Way too many turnovers (21), careless passes. This is probably the longest team in the league that we’re facing, and we are continuing to try to throw passes over the top of their outstretched arms. It’s probably not a great idea.”
The Thunder seemed to hit their stride three weeks ago and it doesn’t look like they have plans of laying off anytime soon. I’ve been impressed with every player to take the court, but the real MVP in my eyes is first-year head coach Billy Donovan. The ability to make adjustments separates the winners and the losers in playoff season. Donovan has passed with flying colors.
Golden State’s fate will fan on two things: ability to make adjustments and mental toughness. The first is Kerr’s responsibility. OKC has overwhelmed Golden State on the perimeter and dominated the glass throughout the series.
Mental toughness is a big one. There are statements that have been made about Steph Curry playing at 70-percent. All-Star forward Draymond Green is said to set the tone of energy on the court, a responsibility he said he’s fallen short of.
Two-hundred and thirty-twi is the number of times a team has been down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series. Nine is the number of times that team has come from behind to win. To make the finals the Warriors will need perfection.
FINALS PREDICTION: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Cleveland Cavaliers