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?
It was an amazing end to an amazing game.
Actually, it was a completely obvious end to an amazing game. Honestly, it was an expected end to an amazing game. It was a Stephen Curry end to an amazing game.
Just another night for the reigning — and soon to be repeating — NBA MVP.
Curry hit 12 3-pointers versus the Thunder on Saturday. Many of the behind-the-back, step-back, fall-down, nothing-but-nylon variety.
To that I say: So what? Sure, that dozen tied the league’s single-game record, but Curry has sunk 10 shots from beyond the arc in three games this month, including one such occasion at Orlando on Thursday.
Curry’s latest game-winner was launched 32 feet away from the rim — which isn’t that far compared to what he did just a few days ago. That distance might as well be a clear layup for Steph these days. Entering Saturday night, he had made 33 of 49 shots attempted from between 28 feet and half court. That’s 67.3 percent. DeAndre Jordan leads the league in overall field goal percentage at 69.1 percent. And someone remind me how many 3s Mama Hooper is chucking up on a nightly basis?
Curry’s 11th 3-pointer tonight was his 287th this season, surpassing the single-season record that he set last year. Yeah, when he made “only” 286 3s, surpassing the single-season record that he set during the 2012-13 campaign.
Plus, not only does Curry make a bunch of 3-pointers, he makes them often. Among players who have attempted at least 500 3s in an NBA season, Curry sits 1-2-3 in 3-point field goal percentage. He’s been at his best this year (46.8 percent).
While the NFL and MLB have recently explored shortening the length of their seasons, the NBA might want to cut off some games just to keep Curry from basically embarrassing its record book. He may have 288 treys now, but the Warriors still have 24 games remaining. At this pace, he’ll knock down his 400th 3-pointer during the final week of the regular season.
From 272 to 261 to 286 to … 400? If a baseball player takes that kind of sudden and drastic statistical jump, the masses are already discrediting his accomplishments with PED accusations. With Steph Curry, we can feel pretty damn comfortable insisting its his pure, unadulterated talent.
Hmm. Maybe I should amend my title statement. Curry’s talent is unbelievable. Amazing. Incomprehensible. What he’s doing, we’ve never seen anything like it. He’s having one of the best seasons of any NBA player ever. He’s still a couple of weeks shy of his 28th birthday — right in the middle of his physical prime — and can already be considered the best shooter in basketball history. At twenty eight. Incredible.
But on a case-by-case basis, what Stephen Curry does from deep has become standard. Watching it should make you feel giddy but by no means surprised. No matter the defense or angle or depth or situation, Curry has made you believe that he will drain every 3 he takes. You expect it. It’s not incredible; it just is.
Go look at that Vine again. Perhaps they were just stunned, but I think the Thunder’s entire bench assumed that ball was going in as soon as it left Steph’s fingertips. No one on that bench is grabbing their head in bewilderment. No collapses. No pounding of fists. Hell, Enes Kanter’s arms tell you everything: He knows that shot is good while it’s still in its descent.
He has seen this show before. We all have, over and over again. On this Oscars eve, Stephen Curry’s shot is like a masterpiece of cinema: No matter how many times you watch it, you can enjoy it. But you always know the ending.
Kobe Bryant, as brash and defiant as ever, opened his postgame press conference Friday night by presenting the media with a middle-finger salute.
Why would The Mamba act so classless!?
Because he really had no choice. Bryant dislocated his right middle finger in the closing minutes of the Lakers’ loss to the Spurs and was more than happy to show it off afterwards.
Marshawn Lynch is probably kicking himself for not doing this first. You know he would have yanked his own finger out of socket just to hold it up proudly at a presser, all the while repeating, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” It would have been perfect.
Real talk: This is probably the best moment of the Lakers’ 2015-16 season.
The Mavericks Have Earned It. But It’s More Entertaining To Talk About Where The Lakers Have Gone Awry
Rewind to five weeks ago. The Dallas Mavericks — the same Dallas Mavericks who now hold a 3-0 series lead — were dominated, overpowered, whipped by the Los Angeles Lakers — the same Los Angeles Lakers who are now one game away from their summer vacation.
The Lakers won that home game, 110-82. It was their second win over the Mavericks in March. Everything may be bigger in Texas, but the Lakers were too big for Dallas, and the game plan was simple: Let Dirk Nowitzki get his, shut down everyone else and pay extra attention to those behind the 3-point line.
It was why I an other Lakers fans wanted to see the Mavericks more than the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round of these NBA Western Conference playoffs.
I should have been careful about what I wished for. These are not the same Dallas Mavericks. These are not the same Los Angeles Lakers. I truly can’t believe what this series has shown us. I thought this was impossible, especially after what happened five weeks ago. But in those five weeks, the Mavs have become the favorite. The Lakers held leads late in games one and three of this series. They lost those leads, but it was the Mavs who won because they were simply better. How much better? The numbers don’t lie.
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’s the best because I wholeheartedly agree with it.
As someone who is not a fan of the Clippers, Cavs, Bulls, Heat, Nets or Knicks, this just about sums up my feelings on the main topic of NBA free agency.
You’ve got to love how a simple piece of cotton can say so much. Also, if you look at the “Additional views” still, it’s nice to see Mark Sanchez getting some modeling work.
Now, if excuse me, I’ve got to go design my “I ❤ Steve Blake!” polos.