SARSOTA, FL -I’m under an hour drive from Amalie Arena where the Tampa Bay Lightning are playing for the Stanley Cup against the Chicago Blackhawks. Normally, I’d be ranting about hockey but the friend I’m visiting isn’t a hockey fan and is more interested in the NBA Finals. But watching an NBA game is foreign to me – since I gave up gambling big money in the mid-90’s. After viewing Game 1 between the Warriors and Cavs, there are several things I’ve learned or observed and are as follows.
LeBron James: Everybody knows this is the greatest player of his era. He has grown from the wunderkind high school student-athlete to hometown savior in a sports city that hasn’t won a damn thing since the 1964 Cleveland Browns won what was then called the NFL Championship – before the days of the Super Bowl.
The Cavs go primarily as King James goes and what the referees allow. By this I mean the “post up” of a defender where LeBron backs up and then rams a shoulder into or hooks the body of the opponent. He did his to the tune of forty something points without an offensive foul called against. Despite this overwhelming and unfair advantage, the play selection called for by Cleveland’s coach as time ran down in a tie game was not an isolation of LeBron on whomever, but a poor excuse of a James jump shot from just inside the three-point stripe. Game over right there as Game 1 went into overtime and the Warriors won.
I will know when these Finals games are fixed when the zebras call an offensive foul on James and alter a game’s outcome, most likely to extend the series to generate more revenue for the NBA.
J.R. Smith: This guy once played for the Knicks and even they didn’t want him. J.R. apparently stands for Just Ridiculous and sums up what I saw during crunch time on Thursday night. In my time, they called what he was doing mid-fourth quarter and more so in overtime, “chucking.” There were consecutive trips down the floor where his shots weren’t even close and took little time off the shot clock. Smith also couldn’t guard Steph Curry and if Kyrie Erving is to miss any time, and presents an uptick in J’R.’s minutes… the Cavs are in deep doo-doo.
Leandro Barbosa: Maybe there’s a J.R. Smith on every team because what I saw of the Warriors Leandro Barbosa during crunch time was just as much a folly. Another example of birth-certificate-tampering, this Brazilian national looks and plays way older than the thirty-two years on his bio page. I vaguely remember Barbosa as a Phoenix Sun, with decent skills as a teammate of Charles Barkley, I think. Steve Kerr needs his head checked for inserting him in crucial moments.
Steph Curry: Curry makes Golden State what they are; a spread you out, three-point shooting, stroke-it-when-you-feel-it team. Curry broke down Kyrie Erving and into an injury during the game and has the ability to dribble-penetrate making him fun to watch. I see these teams with very similar roster depth and should result in a long series provided Erving doesn’t miss any time.
That’s it for today, follow me on Twitter at @CheesyBruin and come back tomorrow for a man that posts-up every time his post is up, DJ Eberle.