After the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets to put together what could be one of the greatest finals in history, we had to wait a week. The longest wait there has ever been between the conference finals and the NBA Finals. The wait was worth it, with an incredible game one that went into overtime. LeBron James put up 44 points in a losing effort as the Warriors took game one. The real loss, however, came in that overtime when Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving went down with a fractured kneecap. The injury will take Irving out for the remainder of the Finals. So in order to bring Cleveland its first championship ever, James will have to play like the greatest of all time to win this one.
When the playoffs began back in April, most basketball fans were ecstatic about the thought of the Warriors going up against the Cavs for the NBA title. You had the best shooter in the league (Some fans and media say the best shooter of all time.) going up against the best player on the planet. Steph Curry vs LeBron James. The current MVP against the four-time MVP. There is little argument that James is a better player than Curry. In that same respect, there is little argument that the Warriors have much more depth and are a better team than the Cavs.
The Cavs already lost one of their stars in the beginning of the playoffs, when Kevin Love had a season ending injury. Irving was playing hobbled for most of the playoffs and missed two games against the Chicago Bulls. The week of rest was a great thing for Irving who needed the time to let his knee heal. Despite admitting that he would be less than 100 percent for game one, head coach David Blatt still had Irving on the court for an astonishing 43 minutes.
Because if Blatt’s coaching mistakes and Irving’s injury, James will have to play like the greatest player on the planet in order to bring the Cleveland fans their first title in franchise history. A task that will not be easily said or done.
Irving was playing excellent, and no doubt telling his coach that he felt fine and wanted to stay in the game. As a head coach, it is your job to make the right decisions. By leaving Irving in for as long as he did, in hopes of winning game won, he all but lost the series. Not only did Blatt not think of this as a best of seven marathons, but a sprint, he did not even get the results he wanted. The Cavs were all but shut out in the extra period. James scored an easy lay-up with under 30 seconds left, for the only points scored. It was also in overtime when Irving suffered the fateful injury.
Without two of his best supporting stars, and a bench that ESPN has dubbed the “Worst supporting cast in Finals history,” James has very little hope of winning his third NBA title. James may be the best player on the court. Unfortunately, Curry is a very close second, followed by the rest of the Warriors on the court before you even get to the next teammate of James’s.
The long-awaited, highly anticipated Finals is all but finished. What many predicted to go the full seven or at least six games, was essentially finished before the clock even hit zero in overtime of Game 1.
For LeBron James, this is a great opportunity for him, he will have to become the greatest ever to win. He has a chance to take his team to the promise land, basically on his own, against a team that only lost three games on their home court all season. If James can do this, it will certainly kick the comparisons to Michael Jordan up a notch. If James loses this series, the pressure is already off. No one expects the Cavs and James to be able to overcome the loss of Irving. Game 2 tips off Sunday at 5 p.m. PST at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, before Games 3 and 4 in Cleveland start on Tuesday.
Opinion By Andy Lapic
Photo Courtesy of Keith Allen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
NBA – WITH NO LOVE OR IRVING, CAVS HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD
ESPN – Kyrie Irving Undergoes Surgery on Broken Kneecap
Yahoo Sports – Warriors Content to Let LeBron James Try to Carry Cavaliers