A few quick thoughts before we wander too far into these NBA Finals.
Remember, a list is just a column without transitions:
1.) This seems perhaps too simplistic to point out, but I’m going to do it anyway: These two teams are playing very different games. That shouldn’t be surprising because Golden State, up 1-0 in this best-of-seven, plays like no one else. Now or ever.
Cleveland is good. Very good. The Cavaliers have maybe the best all-around player in the league in LeBron James — debate yourself, I’m tired of it — and excel at the NBA game of, say, five years ago. You know: working it around, getting it to a superstar or three and having him do his thing. LeBron barreling to the rim, Kyrie Irving dribbling his head off and making beautiful moves to the hoop and Kevin Love — who should be at the rim but spends too much of his time outside where he is only moderately effective (36 percent on 3s during the regular season, 61st in the league) — doing what Love does, a little bit of everything.
Then you have Golden State, with a paradigm-pounding brand of ball that the rest of the league just hasn’t been able to handle yet (and, very possibly, a brand of ball that might not work without the particular set of skills of these particular players). Stephen Curry (second in the league in 3-point percentage, see above link), Klay Thompson (sixth), Draymond Green (27th) and Harrison Barnes (37th) whip the ball around, pass up what looks easy and put up shots that, only five years ago, would have been ridiculed. And they make them.
For sure, Cleveland has guys who can shoot a 3, too. Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye are all in the top 50 (again, link above). The problem is, Cleveland’s Big Three (LeBron, Irving, Love) get the majority of shots — almost 84 percent of the offensive possessions, according to these numbers — which means there’s little chance for any of the not-Big Three to make a lasting, meaningful impression. Especially if the Cavs’ main 3-point threat, Smith, has another game like that first one.
With Love not that great from 3, and Irving (32.1 percent, 97th) and LeBron (30.9, 99th) worse, the Cavs may have to do what the Cavs do best; LeBron going bowling ball, Kyrie dribbling, Love doing what Love does. And the Warriors will swap them 3s for 2s.
The Warriors are one of the most prolific 3 -point shooting teams of all time and the best-shooting team — by this measure — ever. They made almost three more threes a game than the Cavs this season, and shot almost 5 percent better. (All those stats here.) That’s a few points a game. And that could be the difference in these Finals.
2.) I love watching Curry play. Hate watching him dribble. I’m always waiting for him to fall off a cliff.
Announcers rave over his “handle,” but give me Irving any time when it comes to controlling the ball. (It’s 4.7 turnovers per 48 minutes to 3.6, in Irving’s favor, sez this.)
3.) Personal preference: I’ll take Breen’s “Bang!” …
Over Marv’s “Yes!” …
4.) Game 1 started at 9 p.m. ET, or a few minutes after. That’s ridiculously late, of course, and a reason to whine if I felt the need to whine (which, curiously, I don’t).
I guess the reason I can put up with that is because of one of the unsung beauties of basketball. After Game 1 had ended, after all the unnecessary timeouts and long replay reviews, after the general blahness of the game, I looked down at my watch. It was, like, 11:30. Maybe a smidge later.
The official box score says Game 1 lasted 2:24. Try getting in a baseball game under three hours. Try it with an NFL game. It’s not going to happen, especially in the postseason.
Score a big one for the NBA.
A man’s gotta sleep.