Thursday’s Finals preview between the Cavaliers and Spurs gave us a glimpse into what we can expect in June (Next Monday will give us a glimpse into what we can expect during the Western Conference Finals if the Warriors and Spurs meet). I am convinced that there is no way that Lebron James woke up Friday morning and thought to himself,”We have the horses to beat San Antonio or Golden State in the Finals.”
Like most teams, the Cleveland 1-5 starting lineup can run with anyone. You can roll out Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Lebron James, and 2 role players against any team, and 9 times out of 10 will result in a W.
What the average fan doesn’t realize is that championships are won with players 4 through 9. Once teams are deep into the playoffs, the 1-3 matchups are more often than not nuetralized by the other team’s superstars.
This will be Cleveland’s fatal flaw if they run out the same role players for the NBA Finals. Matthew Dellavedova is a decent player, but his deficiencies get exposed if he is on the court for longer than 15-20 minutes a game.
If this were 2002, I’d be impressed with Richard Jefferson coming off the bench for the Cavs. I’m not sure if Timofey Mosgov is hurt or not, but he hasn’t been playing all that well either. He’s only averaging 4 rebounds in 15 minutes, the last 10 games he has played.
The Cavs frontcourt thins out after Lebron and Tristan Thompson, and Kevin Love looked like a major defensive liability the other night against the Spurs. If the Cavs are serious about winning in June, they will need to make a deal or two during February.
It was a good week for Los Spurs however; their home winning streak is still intact. They are also on a 10 game tear after smashing on the Mavericks last night.
If anyone is equipped to knock off the defending champs, it is San Antonio. They are deep in the back court, their front court has David West coming off the bench (who by the way really changed the game once he came onto the court against Cleveland on Thursday. I’m a huge fan of West).
Never forget the ever refined Boris Diaw on the second unit. Not only does he rebound, pass well, and can score anytime he wants, but the man keeps an expresso machine in his locker. Jordan made people want to be better ballplayers. Diaw makes me want to be a better man. He is like the Gordon Parks of hoops.
I understimated how good the backcourt for the Spurs would play. They are deep and at times long. Jonathan Simmons and Kyle Anderson complement Patty Mills quite well on the wings.
And of course, my pick for this season’s MVP, Kawi Leonard played a spectacular 2nd half against Lebron on Thursday. James still put up his stats, but he had to put in some serious work to get 22 points. Kawhi is the only player I can think of who can hold Lebron under 30 semi-consistently.
The Spurs are lucky to have such depth, to the point wherre Tim Duncan and Lamarcus Aldridge don’t have to get 20 and 10 every night for a win. Having that kind of depth lends to a well rested team come playoffs. A lot can happen between now and then, but I’m hoping for everyone’s sake that all of the elite teams have their superstars when the big money games begin.
To be continued.
This Week’s Good Ass Games:
Monday (Good Ass Game of the Week)
This will be a good test for the Warriors, who to me, seem a little bored the last couple of weeks. Ever since they lost their first game, the aura of invinciblity around them has popped. They are like Super Mario after he loses his invincibility star. I doubt this will be as bad as the Christmas game.
“Tap That Vein” Tuesday
I watched my first Denver Nuggets game of the year last night, and somehow forgot that Mark Malone was their coach. They play an entertaining brand of ball. Despite playing in hoops obscurity, Kenneth Faried is still bodying dudes. Will Barton had some highlight worthy plays last night against the Pacers.
Malone seems to bringing along the youngster Mudiay, and Randy Foye hit a couple of timely shots. They may get murked by the Thunder, but I think this will be a better game than Milwaukee against Miami.
Speaking of Oklahoma City, I finally got to see them in person this year. Russell Westbrook got ejected in the 2nd quarter, but it didn’t matter. The Mavericks sat all five of their starters. The Mavs are a pretty thin team this year, especially in the front court, and they got drubbed.
Dion Waiters was feeling himself too, slicing to the rim during garbage time and post dunk posing for the crowd. The problem with that he did this during a live ball, which led to a 5 on 4 fast break, and someone had to foul to stop the ball.
Then about a minute later, this joker starts making snow angels on the court after getting fouled for an “And 1”. Dion Waiters strikes me as the type of dude who habitually leaves a woman hanging because he “got his.” I mean, look at this cat.
Good luck leaving your woman alone at the table if this guy is in the restaurant.
This will be some high level basketball. Golden State will either be licking their wounds after that Detroit loss and tear into the Bulls, or they will ride their momentum into tearing into the Bulls. I don’t care how many points Jimmy Buckets gets in a game (53 to be exact), I can’t bring myself to watch the 76ers.
Two teams I haven’t had a chance to watch enough. I may have to make time to peep. Lillard is balling right now. By the time you read this, he may be the conference player of the week.
Kemba vs. Russ. L.A. vs. New York. I expect this to be a decent run just from this matchup alone. I think it will at least be entertaining even if it isn’t close.
This will be a fun one to watch, but it bums me out watching the Timberwolves. Like most young teams, they keep finding ways to lose. I’m still not convinced Zach Lavine is their third dude. There is a guy on my rec team who went to UCLA during the Lavine, Shabazz, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson era.
When he told me that Lavine is an extraordinarily nice guy, I initially winced. I almost felt bad talking shit about him until I realized that I didn’t say anything over the line. It isn’t like I said I wanted to punch the dude in the face. I just want to see him pass more. Nothing personal.
I have as much interest in this game as I had in watching the Steelers-Broncos yesterday. Kyrie vs. Chris Paul is a very seductive matchup though. I’d rather just watch highlights. Too much whining, and too many fouls, and too many scrubs at the end of the bench.
Even if the Kings landed the number 1 pick, I’m not sure they would do the right thing with it. I’d rather see them get knocked out in the playoffs than Utah. Who doesn’t want to see Boogie and Rondo in the first round? It would be a fun and new narrative no?
A good week to watch the Warriors. They’ll have to be attentive this week, because they could easily take a couple of L’s if they try going half sass on this road trip.
I love me some J.J. Barea. Dude is fiery, and he refuses to get pushed around. At 5’8, I figured he was kind of a novelty act–basically a Puerto Rican Mugsy Bogues, but homey can ball. I love that he didn’t back down from Russell Westbrook’s horsehshit. Off the Court, Russ is closer to Kirk Cameron than he is Cam’ron. #faketoughguys
Los Angeles Clippers-Knicks
Don’t sleep on the Knicks. This will be a physical game. I hope it gets chippy.
Kemba vs. Elfrid? I’ll take it.
You’ll get plenty of this matchup during the playoffs. If you have to choose between Friday and Saturday as your “date night” I would advise you to go out Saturday.
Ugh. Poor Rockets fans. Making the playoffs is “Fool’s Gold.” Blow the team up. Just start over. Your window has closed.
Los Angeles Clippers-Toronto
Enjoy your what is left of your holiday weekend. Championship weekend will be worth tuning into as well. Have fun this week.