Everyone is pumped for tonight’s Game 7 between the Cavaliers and Warriors, as well they should be. Besides an NBA championship, there are legacies for the players and the teams, both short-term and long-term, on the line.
One game shouldn’t define a player or a team, at least not while that game is fresh in our minds. Everyone falls prey to recency bias. Time is the best way to determine whether or not something is the greatest. The problem with time, however, is that it takes its sweet damn time, and nobody wants to wait that long for a clear picture to develop, so let’s just make a bunch of declarations now, OK?
That is how sports talk works. You need to present opinions on the impact of a just-completed event and its space in history immediately. This is a corrupt way of judging something, but it’s the world we live in. And for this series specifically, there are very clear questions that will be asked about each team and some of its players no matter who comes out victorious.
While I have no idea what will happen on the court in Oakland, the chatter subjects in the minutes, hours and days following the final buzzer — barring the occurrence of some non-basketball-related event during the game, like an alien invasion — are pretty obvious. I’ll cover those topics now and give you my take so you don’t have to waste your time listening to others debate these issues after the fact.
If the Warriors win …
Is this the greatest team in NBA history?
On a single-season basis, I think so. Best record and winning percentage of all time. Although they were pushed to the brink in two playoff series, that shouldn’t weigh as heavy as the credit earned for ultimately winning against tough opponents. This team has shown its mettle in the playoffs. That should be commended. They annihilated the competition in the regular season, posted the second-longest winning streak in NBA history (dating back to 2014-15) as well as the association’s longest winning streak to open a season. They did it with purely sublime shooting, perhaps the best we’ve ever seen.
Are these Warriors, 2014-present, the greatest team in NBA history?
I realize it’s stupid, but I can’t get away from it. I decide against writing a post if I don’t think I can get at least 400-plus words out of it. That’s basically why I do Running Off at the Electronic Mouth; most of those are just a jumble of subjects I want to write about here but don’t because of this bastardization I’ve placed upon small posts.
But I’m going to overcome this right now — although that was a pretty long intro about being short, so I may have defeated the purpose. Aw, damn.
Anyway, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert needs to be quiet. Here’s what he said via Twitter shortly after LeBron James and the Miami Heat were ultimately vanquished in Game 6 of the NBA Finals tonight:
“Congrats to Mark C.&entire Mavs org. Mavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings. Old Lesson for all:There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE“
Dan, nobody likes a sore loser. Especially a rich one.
And nobody likes a chatty sore loser who is in no position to talk.
What happened to Miami doesn’t make what Gilbert said in his “open letter” right. This doesn’t vindicate his actions. This is not an “I told you so!” moment. Actually, what happened to Miami has nothing to do with him, but Gilbert apparently feels compelled to make himself part of the story with a season-ending jab at his former employee.
Meanwhile, his own NBA team finished with the league’s second-lowest win total, set a record for longest losing streak, won 19 games and have the honor of holding the No. 1 pick in a watered-down draft. Gilbert should focus more on those issues than trying to make it look like he’s sitting atop some sort of moral high ground.
It’s slightly ironic that this was addressed to Cuban; over the past year, Gilbert has zoomed past Cuban as the NBA owner most in need of a muzzle.
Was that short enough for ya? I’m trying.
is will be the newest head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Color me surprised, yet pleased overall. But know that changes still have to be made.
Brown and the Lakers have agreed in principle Wednesday to a four-year, $18.25 million deal, according to league sources. The contract is a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth year. If the Lakers don’t pick up the option, Brown is guaranteed to receive $2.5 million. That money sounds about right considering the Lakers didn’t want to overpay for a coach after giving Phil Jackson more than $10 million per year recently. If Brown doesn’t win a championship within those first three years, that team option will become meaningless.
I’m surprised because I had put all of my money on Brian Shaw, especially after Kobe Bryant endorsed him. But when all was said and done, it appears that he wasn’t even among the top two finalists for this job. The Buss family wanted someone who would represent more of a departure from Phil Jackson and the triangle offense. Brown kind of fits that bill, but his offense can bring principles of the triangle at times. I hope Shaw finds his head coaching job soon. He deserves one.
Brown was relatively successful as head coach of the Cavaliers from 2005-10 and got a raw deal when he was fired one season after being named Coach of the Year. He won 66 percent of his games in Cleveland, including 60-win seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10. I say relatively because Brown didn’t get that ring. Many in L.A. will be wary of him because Brown never led his team to a championship, got swept out of the Cavs’ only NBA Finals appearance in 2007 and guided teams that were seen as playoffs busts in his last two seasons after winning 127 games.
But please consider the personnel he had to send out onto the floor. Here’s a list of the Cavaliers’ second-best player for each season Brown was head coach. The No. 1 guy ended up taking his talents — well, you know:
The Cavs outworked and beat the Heat, 102-90. LeBron finished with a triple-double — 27 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists — but that won’t be remembered. He actually did nothing memorable in this game. The Cavs never trailed and led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter. The Heat made a couple of runs, cutting the lead to two in the middle of fourth quarter, but could never get over the hump.
I’m sure some pundits will credit this loss to LeBron’s absence during the player introductions. It must have ruined the team’s flow or something. It caused Chris Bosh to shrink in the face of Ryan Hollins’ defense. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
I want that to be fully sarcastic, but I know someone will say that in all seriousness just to get some cheap reads.
For what it’s worth, LeBron said after the game that he missed the introductions because he was using the restroom.
LeBron James and the Miami Heat are in Cleveland tonight, so you know something weird is going to happen.
We didn’t have to wait long.
As LeBron’s name was announced during pregame lineup introductions, one thing was missing: LeBron James. He waited for the team’s starting five to be announced before making his way out of the tunnel and into the huddle, avoiding the inevitable chorus of boos that came with mention of his name.
I’ve never seen that before. I’m sure someone such as Skip Bayless will point to that as a sort of default in LeBron’s maturity (“Derrick Rose wouldn’t have skipped the pregame intros!”). I don’t think it means anything at all. It was just … unique.
In related news, the NBA needs to reach its playoff stage badly.
It took 26 losses, 55 days and one hell of an effort but yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers are winners, at least for tonight.
I sat down to watch Friday’s matchup with the Clippers for two reasons: I had never actually made it through an entire Cavs game since the slide began; I was determined to make it through this one.
Secondly, everyone was aware that this was the last hurdle before the “who’s worse” showdown between the Cavs and Wizards on Sunday. I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly as I couldn’t wait for those two teams to square off.
Instead, the Cavaliers decided to take all of the fun out of my weekend plans.
More than just a relieving win, let’s not forget what really happened Friday night in the Q. An extremely entertaining game unexpectedly broke out. I figured that the Cavs would come out fast and then the Clippers would seize control before running away in the second half. Well, two of those three things did happen. Cleveland got an early lead only to see it erased and the Clippers go up by eight in the first quarter.
But that would be the largest margin in the game. What happened over the following 41 minutes was actually must-see basketball. There were 16 ties and 21 lead changes in this back-and-forth affair. It seemed in the second half that neither side could miss, and a big shot would always come when either team started to create just a bit of separation.
And then we had to deal with overtime.
Blake Griffin had another great game. Baron Davis was left completely alone whenever he decided to drive into the paint for layups, something he should have done more.
But Cleveland — holy Jesus!
Antwan Jamison played possessed, putting down 35 points, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 3-point range. Mo Williams, in action for the first time in 13 games and competing through obvious pain in the fourth quarter, came off the bench to rack up 17 points and 14 assists. Nine of those assists came in his first 11 minutes. J.J Hickson, undersized at center and having to body up Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, scored 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had a couple of gigantic blocks late in regulation (the second of which may have been goaltending…?).
Yes, part of me is happy for Cavaliers. It’s been a tough year for those players and their fans going back to that one night in July when some guy made a decision about something. Twenty-six losses in a row is a lot of suffering for a fan base that has the third-highest attendance mark in the league despite very little to get excited about. I give them a lot of credit for continuing to come out, and they gave tonight’s game a playoff atmosphere. I know that’s cliché, but it was very true.
But that’s only a part of me because … c’mon. I mean, C’MON!
I’m a few days late on this, but the fact that this even exists is just too good.
Oh, my sides hurt.
The rumor is likely nothing more than that, but when real news outlets such as the Huffington Post start reporting on this story, it does give it some indirect credibility. I like how it is believed that LeBron didn’t play well and the Cavs lost the Celtics series due to knowledge of the affair. Because it certainly wasn’t because of how well the Celtics played, right? Hell, LeBron only had one bad game in the series, Game 5. Otherwise, he was pretty freakin’ good, especially in Game 6, save for the final few minutes when he didn’t feel like playing any longer.
Why don’t we start looking at Antwan Jamison? Which one of his relatives slept with Delonte, because he was horrible for all of the eastern semis.