NBA Finals, Game 2 Takeaways: I Feel Ya, LeBron.
Imagine averaging 40 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists on 56/46/85 shooting splits in two Finals games and being down 2-0. Now, imagine not punching any of your teammates in the face. Congratulations, you’re LeBron James. I’m not going to say I completely know what the King is going through, but I have some idea. I used to manage a small, family-owned restaurant. A good portion of the staff was competent, but the others were just a waste of space. At some point, you just hire people for physically having a body because it’s disconcerting for customers to walk into a restaurant with only one person working. Every once in a while, there’d be a shift that would just be a perfect storm of vacation requests and sick call-ins that would leave me with all my worst employees. We’ll call them Jeff, JR, Jordan, and Tristan.
Those were the hardest shifts of my life. I would have to do EVERYTHING: greet customers, take orders, bus tables, answer the phone, deal with complaints. All the while, JR is still trying to figure out how to clock in, Jordan is breaking plates left and right, Jeff is babbling to the customers about how good he used to be, and Tristan just won’t stop hitting on the hostess. I’d work my ass off, but at the end of the night, there’d still be 10 Yelp reviews about how awful the service was. (Yelp is just like the Golden State Warriors. They’re both from the Bay Area and ruining their respective industries.) That’s how LeBron James must feel every single game.
Playing against the Warriors is like walking a tightrope.
I’m already on the path of convoluted metaphors, so here’s another one. LeBron James is doing his best funambulist impression this series. (It means tightrope walker. Read a book.) To beat the Warriors, you have to play a pretty perfect game. (And even then, it’s not guaranteed as Game 1 can attest.) LeBron managed to keep his team in it for most of the game keeping it within 5-12 points until the middle of the 4th. He still put up 29/13/9, and they STILL lost by 19. For as good as LeBron’s balance is, it’s hard not to fall off when Curry is lobbing bombs at you or the vibration of a thousand bricked threes reverberates through your rope or you have to carry JR Smith’s corpse.
I think LeBron was trying to conserve some of his energy because for as devastating as Game 1 was, it gave him hope that the Cavs can compete. He’s still playing the long game. He was trying to get his teammates involved so he wouldn’t have to expend as much energy on offense. His 13 assists could have easily been 20 if his teammates could hit open shots. In Game 3, I think we see a more assertive LeBron as he tries to infuse at least some drama into the series. (Although, the best way to cement the GOAT rank would be to spot the Warriors a 3-0 lead, then lead the first reverse sweep in NBA history. It won’t happen, but COULD YOU IMAGINE??)
Cleveland needs to shake things up.
Can someone explain to me why Jordan Clarkson is still getting minutes in this series? Is he out there just to try and pad Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding numbers? I understand why the Cavs took a chance on him at the trade deadline. He’s a guy that can create his own shot off the bounce. (I could go out there and create my own shot too. Even if I got blocked every time, I still created a shot attempt.) In theory, that should help ease LeBron’s burden. IN THEORY. In reality, Clarkson is shooting 30% for the postseason and 23% for the Finals. So maybe we should look into alternate theories.
Ty Lue needs to start exploring the end of his bench. Give some of the other “other Cavs” some run. Will it work? Probably not, but at least you would confuse Steve Kerr a bit. Going back to my restaurant metaphor, when things would get really busy, I would try crazy stuff. I sent out my dishwasher, Cedi, that didn’t speak much English to take orders. I’d ask my chef, Rodney, to bus tables. (Even if he refuses, at least I asked.) Hell, I’d even consider taking the homeless guy named Ante off the street to greet customers. (At the very least, he’d scare some away and make it less busy.)
I still can’t get over the fact that Steph Curry’s first name is Wardell.
I’m not going to tell you anything about Steph Curry that you don’t already know because I already dropped that truth bombshell during my last recap. I will say that even though Kevin Durant is a better player, Curry is more important to their success. When Kevin Durant goes off, it’s like “Yeah, okay, he’s 7 feet tall, he’s quick, he was built to be an offensive force.” When Curry at 6’3’’, 190 lbs. goes off, it’s absolutely deflating to the opposing team. If you played against a player like that in 2K, you’d be convinced that they hacked their game.
I’ve never been a big stat guy in my writing, but here’s the only one you really need to know about Game 2. Steph Curry hit as many threes (9) as the entire Cavs team. Also, both Warriors games that I've written about in the playoffs, Curry goes off and the Warriors win in a blowout. So, I promise not to write about any more games in an attempt to make the series more exciting.