On the one hand, the Cleveland Cavaliers are only halfway there. On the other hand, they’re actually halfway there.
After taking Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals, the Cavs are two wins away from winning the first championship in franchise history and the first Cleveland-area championship in more than half a century.
It’s hard not to ponder the what-ifs.
“If LeBron wins this championship, you might as well just put him up on the Mount Rushmore right now,” Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Marc Spears said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “That one that has Bill Russell and Magic and Bird and of course Michael Jordan on it. This would be one of the most impressive championships that you’ve ever seen. To lose two All-Stars, to lose a starting center, and to still will this team to a championship against a team with the best record in the NBA – it’s amazing. It’s stunning. I’m in the Bay Area. I watch a lot of Golden State Warriors basketball, and I have never seen them shook like this.”
Stephen Curry has been shackled by Matthew Dellavedova. Harrison Barnes was held scoreless in Game 3. Draymond Green is shooting 26.7 percent for the series.
The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that Golden State erupted for 36 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3 – this after scoring just 35 in the second and third quarters combined.
“I still think that the Warriors, if they can get their offense together like they did in the latter part of that game, there’s nothing that Cleveland can do and they can beat them,” Spears said. “But they got to play like that. I really agree with what Kobe Bryant said. They need to be more anxious and have more of a sense or urgency. And again, the Cavaliers have them shook right now.”
It’s great that the Warriors came alive in the fourth quarter, but why were they trailing by 20 points in the third? Why did it take them that long to find a rhythm, especially after sleep-walking through Game 2?
Spears isn’t sure the Warriors understand the gravity of the situation. He visited with Curry after Game 2 and was surprised by Curry’s nonchalant attitude: I’ll play better next game, he said.
“I expected him to be kind of depressed,” Spears said. “It’s first one to four. There didn’t seem to be any urgency from him or the rest of the team. I was in the locker room and it was quiet, but it wasn’t like depression – which you would think a home Finals loss would give you that. I think now they’ve finally woken up and realized how tough it is now. They haven’t been tested a lot this season. They did learn from the Memphis series, and they won three in a row after they were down 2-1. I do think they still have the talent to do it, but it’s a lot harder when you’re going against LeBron James.”