My friend Christian suggested we swap 700 words on why each team will win The Finals. Being the LeBron groupie he is, I wrote about the Dubs.
To explain why the Warriors are going to dismantle the Cavaliers over the course of the next week and a half, I could appeal to your sense of logic and employ The Numbers.
The sheer statistical weight of Golden State’s greatness is suffocating – 3-point shooting, offensive efficiency, defensive rating, pace of play, PER… You pick a metric, and the Dubs’ are superior. They’ve been that good.
At 46-3, Golden State’s home record, including the postseason, is one of the three best in league history. Steph Curry is the first player ever to eclipse 1,000 +/- in one season. Oh, and never once this season has Golden State lost four out of seven games, which is what the Cavs will have to do.
But forget that. Ignore the numbers.
Let’s talk about Draymond Green, the 6-foot-5 angry peacock, or Festus Ezeli whose name literally translates to “Immovable Wall” in a language I just made up. There’s Klay Thompson, who is contractually guaranteed to score 24 points in one of the series’ first 16 quarters, and Andre Iguodala, the ring-hungry grandpa who will poison Mike Miller’s Gatorade if that’s what it comes to.
You can’t forget Andrew Bogut, who will redeem his No. 1 bust status by smothering Mozgov with his chest hair, or Harrison Barnes, who has weirdly played his best basketball since pissing off Golden State fans.
And that’s to say nothing about the league’s best shooter and MVP.
As a team, they have an answer for everything. They can play big, small, fast and slow. Maybe the best example is Memphis.
The Grizzlies were exactly the type of team a mad scientist would create in a lab to slow down the Warriors – tall, methodical, physical and unafraid. And what’s crazy is, it worked! For back-to-back games! Then, the coaches made adjustments, the players adapted, and the Warriors ran Memphis back below the Mason-Dixon.
They beat Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol and James Harden, three of the four players who join Curry on the All-NBA first team. They’re about to play against the player that rounds out that list, and well, that’s where you’re right. I can’t argue with you that the only compelling argument to make for the Cavaliers is LeBron James. He’s the best basketball player in the world after all, right?
But LeBron wasn’t even the best player this season, and he hasn’t been better than Curry in the playoffs against an inferior slate of opponents. He’s shooting 18 percent from 3, a career worst. Some of it has to be the understandable pressure he feels to be a player-coach, especially as he sits in the huddle and watches a guy who looks like a teenage vampire call slash-and-kick plays that became outdated in 2009.
Don’t forget that LeBron has had a penchant for doing weird things at weird times this postseason. Remember his bizarre iso 1-on-1 crusade against Paul Millsap? His usage rate is through the roof – highest it’s been in years — implying he’s tightening up and losing trust in his teammates as the postseason drags on.
Speaking of his teammates… let’s talk about the Sunday YMCA crew that Bron has around him. Statistically, LeBron’s supporting cast is a sliver better this year than it was in 2007. We’re talking a difference of maybe two rebounds per game – that’s what is separating the 2015 roster from Boobie Gibson because Cleveland’s Big Three is a Big 1 ½. (Sidenote: It will be shocking if Kyrie starts every game this series, especially if it goes longer than five. Tendonitis takes months, not days to heal.)
In the end, LeBron is just a dude. He bleeds. He gets tired and frustrated, and he’s susceptible to long stretches of overthought. He’s going to have a good series – he may even have a great one. But I don’t care if he averages a damn triple-double. At some point during this series, the bottom is going to fall out, and when it does, it’s going to be ugly.
The winner of Game 1 wins 71 percent of the time. The Warriors win tonight and win the series.