If someone had told me during the NBA’s heyday in the 1980’s that Cleveland and Golden State would be meeting in the NBA Finals at any time ever I would have had a good chuckle.
In 1985, Sleepy Floyd and Joe Barry Carroll (AKA Joe Barely Cares) were anchoring a 33-49 Golden State team that had just drafted Chris Mullin. Meanwhile, John Bagley, Roy Hinson and Mel Turpin were leading the way for the 34-48 Cavaliers.
Golden State can close out one of the all-time great seasons by winning the championship. The Warriors are trying to end the jinx of what turned out to be trading the draft pick that ended up being Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for Barry Carroll. Incidentally, in another franchise-altering move a few years later, the Warriors also couldn’t afford to keep Bernard King so they had to trade him to the Knicks.
The City of Cleveland looks to their savior LeBron James to end the 51 year drought and all the frustration Clevelanders have endured including “The Shot”, “The Decision”, Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack …the list goes on.
I predict Golden State will capture their first title in 40 years. The Warriors are an excellent defensive team which many casual followers don’t realize. While Cleveland’s number one ranking in team defense is well -publicized, Golden State ranks fourth but has superior offensive firepower to Cleveland. LeBron has been amazing in the playoffs but the Cavs road to the championship has been laughable. The Celtics were easy fodder and shouldn’t have made the playoffs. Chicago put up a good fight but is a dysfunctional team and Atlanta was the worst #1 seed in either conference at least in the last 30 years.
With the many storylines in this NBA Finals, the one to me that is most interesting is for the people who thought LeBron James should have had the MVP over Stephen Curry. Let the real MVP step forward in this series.
By the way, if the Cavaliers lose, James will be 2-4 in the Finals compared to Jordan’s 6-0. Kind of like Brady’s four Superbowls to Peyton Manning’s one.
By the way, kudos to the New York Knicks who are represented by David Lee (GS) as well as Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith (Cleve) in the Finals.
Recently, there was an article published on ESPN http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-best-nba-teams-of-all-time-according-to-elo/ rating the best NBA teams/dynasties of all time with the premise that it is more impressive to be the best team in a 30-team league than a 10-team league. This logic has so many holes I don’t know where to begin. In a 30 team league, the talent is so watered down that you drown in mediocrity. This season, nine teams finished 15 games or more below .500 and seven more finished .500 or worse. More than half the league sucks. You could lop off haldf the players in this league and no one would miss them. The article ranks the current Spurs dynasty over the Celtics dynasty in the 1960’s when they won nine championships.
In the 60’s when there was a nine-team league that eventually grew to 14 by the end of the decade. You were playing each opponent 8-10 times per year. So the Celtics were playing 25% of their road games in CA against the Lakers and SF Warriors as opposed to 7.5% now. They were playing half of their games against Philly (Hal Greer, Chet Walker and Wilt Chamberlain), Cincy (Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson), Lakers (Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and eventually Chamberlain) and the Knicks (Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere. That is half your season against multiple Hall of Famers on a nightly basis. Four games in five nights was commonplace.
Give me any team from the Celtics dynasty in the 60’s or the ’85-’86 Celtics team that featured Jerry Sichting beating up Ralph Sampson and those teams would beat any of the five championship Spurs teams.
Well the NHL was spared the indignity of having an Anaheim Ducks – Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Finals. Outside of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Anaheim and Steven Stamkos on Tampa Bay, most casual hockey fans haven’t heard of anybody else on those teams. At least the Blackhawks bring Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith.
Nevertheless, warm weather hockey has been a great success in the NHL and with the LA Kings winning last year, the future is bright in the land of palm trees. I predict Tampa Bay in six maybe seven games.
Looking forward to seeing Mike Babcock be the fourth coach to try and get Phil Kessel to care about defense.
As for the Boston Bruins, if you are a fan and watched these final four teams it has to be painfully obvious that the Bruins are not even close to competing with this group. They also aren’t close to competing with semifinalist Montreal either. These teams all have superior speed and skills that the Bruins sorely lack. Quick name the Bruins snipers and skill players. Okay, keep reading now.
The hiring of Don Sweeney was business as usual for Cam Neely’s team. The Bruins have won a grand total of one Stanley Cup in the last 42 years based on their big bad Bruin strategy and playing heavy. They have had tremendous difficulty sustaining success, they have drafted poorly and have yet to beef up international scouting on par with several other NHL franchises. In the old days, it was easy to blame Jeremy Jacobs because he wouldn’t spend the money. That excuse doesn’t fly and as of now, this Original Six franchise is heading in the wrong direction, with the wrong philosophy and with no money under the Salary Cap.
Lastly, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau became the first coach in NHL history to lose six Game 7’s and to lose three straight at home. In two of the last three Game 7’s his teams have lost, they have been completely blown out. Perhaps he can summon Doc Rivers (see last blog) who leads the NBA in Game 7 failure and is just a short ride down the freeway.