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Cavaliers Defeat Warriors 93-87 to win first NBA Championship: Reaction and Reflection

Minutes after the final buzzer sounded at Oracle Arena to give the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA Championship in franchise history, LeBron James collapsed to the floor.   James, surrounded by players he recruited, was finally victorious in the Cavalier wine and gold uniform. It wasn’t a likely outcome, and it almost didn’t seem real, especially given the fact that the Golden State Warriors had hardly lost a game in their building all season. In fact, just days ago, the Warriors were so close to a title that the narrative had already begun to shift to the fallout of The Finals. People talked about whether Tyronn Lue would be coaching next season, whether Kevin Love would still be on the team, and how a lackluster 2-5 record in the NBA Finals impacts a player who desires to be mentioned with all-time greats such as Jordan, Magic and Russell.

Now, after an improbable 3-1 series comeback, Cleveland is a championship city for the first time in 52 years.

Many people will look at the Draymond Green suspension as the turning point in this series, and that may hold some truth. However, it is unfair to blame Draymond Green for the overall failure of the Warriors in the final 3 games. Green played excellent in Game 7, and deserves a lot of credit for what he was able to do. In all likelihood, however, winning on the road in Game 5 gave the Cavaliers some confidence going into Game 7, and they needed every bit of it.While the Cavaliers may have won Game 5 even if Green was on the court, the suspension served as motivation for the Cavaliers to seize on an opportunity, a philosophy they carried through to the next two games.

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If there’s any individual blame to go around, it has to go to Steph Curry. As the back-to-back MVP, 6 for 19 with 17 points in an NBA Finals Game 7 is unacceptable. Curry shot 4 of 14 from 3-point range, well below his usual average. For perspective, if Curry shot his 2015-16 regular average for 3-pointers (.454), he finishes with six more points, and the Warriors win this game. Something was off with Curry, and he wasn’t draining the shots we are used to seeing him make. Many times throughout the night, Oracle Arena was ready to explode with excitement from a clutch Curry 3-pointer, just to be disappointed when it clanged off the rim. Even after Kyrie Irving hit what proved to be the game-winning shot with just under a minute left, you still felt like the Warriors were going to find a way to win. There was no way they were going to go down like this with the historic season they had. Nevertheless, they couldn’t pull it off, and now one must wonder how something like this could’ve happened. Maybe they were fatigued from the strenuous regular season and back-to-back 7 game series. Maybe it was injury. Even if it was, Curry would never hide behind that excuse. The truth is, we will never know what exactly caused this series to end the way it did, but the Cavaliers deserve all the credit in the world.

While so much attention is paid to LeBron James and his accomplishments in the final games of this series, an equal amount of attention should be placed (but sadly, probably won’t) on the players around him. Trailing 3-1 in the series, it would have been easy for a guy like Richard Jefferson or JR Smith to pack it in for the year. Why should it matter to them? Obviously, no player is going to just stop trying, but when so much of the narrative is focused solely on LeBron James, as a supporting player you might begin to wonder how much credit you’re actually going to receive. On the flip side, there is very little blame handed down to guys like Smith or Iman Shumpert with a loss, they are just pieces, easily moveable and replaceable. When it comes down to it, the supporting cast decided the fate of this series just as much, if not more, than LeBron James and Kyrie Irving did. Their dedication and commitment could not have been more clear than when J.R. Smith let out all his emotions following the win and also in his press conference.

So, this is the fun part; what does the future look like for LeBron James and Steph Curry? While the sting is still very fresh for Curry, there is nothing but optimism for his future. While LeBron may have temporarily stolen back the imaginary throne of current best player in the NBA, Curry and the Warriors are poised to be contenders for years to come. In fact, Vegas already has them as the favorites to win it all next year. When Golden State says they will use this loss as motivation for next season, I’d take their word for it. A 73-9 team doesn’t reach that mark out of pure chance. This team has dynasty potential, and how they respond next season will show if they are up to that caliber. With the predictability of the current NBA, my money is on a third-straight Warriors vs. Cavaliers finals next season, and even more bragging rights will be on the line.

For LeBron James and Cleveland, their future won’t start for at least another month. They will spend a good chunk of time enjoying this one, but expect them to be back next year. The makeup of the team is another question, and it remains to be seen whether Kevin Love will be back next season. One thing’s for sure, we have a long offseason to talk about it.

NBA Offseason Odds Meter

What are the odds LeBron James bolts Cleveland?

10%

Wow. Can you imagine? This percentage would definitely be a little higher if they lost, but deep down would anyone really be that shocked? I’m not sure anyone would burn his jersey this time if he left, but they might at least stomp on it a little bit and put it in a box for when he inevitably returns again.

What are the odds the Warriors get Kevin Durant?

20%

I can’t think of anything that would shake up the NBA world more than the Warriors somehow landing Kevin Durant. Personally, I question whether or not he would want to go to a team he just lost to in an emotional 7-game series, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for a lot of people with much more knowledge about the NBA than myself. If that were to happen, you would think the Warriors would have to part ways with Draymond Green, but once again, anything is possible in the NBA offseason.

What are the odds Kevin Love leaves Cleveland?

40%

This has been a rumor for too long to not be of at least some risk. Love’s poor play throughout much of the playoffs only fueled rumors, but perhaps his decent Game 7 combined with an NBA Championship might smooth things over between Love and Cleveland.

What are the odds the NBA is rigged?

2%

I bring this up because there is a growing number of people (including Ayesha Curry) making comments about the league being rigged. While it sometimes seems like a logical explanation for the inexplicable, the NBA is not rigged. Tanking might be a real thing, but there are too many people around this league to keep such a colossal secret quiet. However, my friend (who is a football maniac and probably cares more about NFL mini-camps than the NBA Finals) offered an interesting viewpoint; what if it’s the refs that are fixing it?

What are the odds that Drake is now a Cavalier fan?

50%

I leave this one at 50% because with Drake, you always need to leave room for the other option. Maybe that option is Golden State, maybe it’s Toronto. Depends on how he feels when he wakes up. Clearly, Drake only cares about associating himself with anything successful. It makes sense, considering he’s been so successful lately, but it kind of makes you wonder, when Drake’s run finally ends, will he root for a bad team instead? I hear 76ers season tickets are going for pretty cheap these days, Drizzy.

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Cavaliers Take Advantage of Draymond Green Suspension to Force Game 6, So What Now?

There is a common saying in the NBA that a playoff series doesn’t begin until a team wins on the road. While this is usually the case in most situations, it appeared to be the exact opposite in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors went to Cleveland up 2-0 in the series, already crowned presumptive NBA Champions by many. While the Cavaliers were able to dominate in Game 3, a strong road win by the Warriors in Game 4 behind a 38-point performance from back-to-back MVP Steph Curry had most basketball fans agreeing the series was essentially over. Instead of starting a competitive series by winning on the road, the Warriors ended it.

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Or so we thought.

Big news came out Sunday night when the NBA announced Draymond Green would be suspended for Game 5 after his altercation with LeBron James in the later stages of Game 4 was upgraded to a flagrant-1 foul. Green had already been under the microscope this postseason for three previous flagrant fouls, and the most recent one warranted an automatic one game suspension.

This suspension was met with much controversy from the media, fans and players. Klay Thompson, reacting to the news, said “I guess his feelings just got hurt. I mean, we’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently.” When asked about Thompson’s comments, James chose to take the “high road,” a statement that was mocked by Ayesha Curry, wife of Steph Curry, who tweeted “High Road. invisible bridge used to step over said person when open floor is available left to right.”

James received harsh criticism for this response, primarily from Mychal Thompson, father of Klay Thompson, who continued the recent trend of former NBA players in their mid-50’s complaining about everything, said “LeBron couldn’t have survived in the 80s with the physicality and the words guys said to each other back then.”

I understand that LeBron should have shrugged this off, but given the intensity of the series and the fact that he was probably pissed off with how the game was going, you can see why he did it. That’s not to say it was acceptable, but if LeBron played nice and walked away, Draymond could have been in Game 5 and we could be talking about a series recap right now. The truth is, the suspension to Green may have been the small springboard of momentum the Cavaliers needed going into Game 5 to earn themselves a chance to fight again.

Despite Draymond Green being out of the lineup (and out of the building for that matter), it was hard to envision the Cavaliers winning this game. The way in which Golden State won Game 4, raining down three-pointers and stealing the game in front of the Cleveland faithful, appeared to take away any heart this Cavaliers team had left. The Warriors hit 17 three-pointers in Game 4, the most in NBA Finals history. With each drained bucket, the body language for every player on the Cavaliers went from bad to worse. Game 5 began with a flurry of offense from both teams, with the score 32-29 Golden State at the end of the first quarter. In the second, Klay Thompson seemingly draining a shot every time he touched the basketball, with four deep 3-pointers highlighting his performance in the first half.

However, once the second half began, the Cavs hit the gas. More importantly, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving caught fire. Both finished with 41 points, handling most of the heavy lifting for a Cavaliers roster that has struggled to match the depth of the Warriors. In similar situations last year during the Finals, LeBron had to churn out a solo effort in order to get the job done. Now, he has a wingman.

So, does this win shift the outlook of this series? Sure. Kyrie Irving finally had the game he needed in order to establish himself as a star in big moments, something we haven’t necessarily seen on his resume thus far in the league. Shades of it were present in Game 4, but this 41 point night had much more of an impact. In previous games, Irving appeared to fade under the spotlight, but somehow, he found a hot streak in the hostile confines of a rocking Oracle Arena. Additionally, we saw a killer instinct from LeBron James that hasn’t come out in a long, long time. That being said, none of it will matter if the Cavaliers can’t get it done on Thursday night. Despite the great game, they will still have a monster to contend with when Draymond Green returns. Despite 41 points from LeBron and Irving, the pressure is still on the Cavaliers, and they will have to prove they can handle it.

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Where is the Love?

Since returning from his concussion sustained in Game 1, you would think Kevin Love hasn’t actually returned from his concussion sustained in Game 1. He’s not doing himself any favors in proving he isn’t the odd man out on this Cavalier’s roster, and in Game 5 he finished just 1-5 with 2 points in 33 minutes of action. Someone needs to start a search party in Cleveland for this guy, because his picture is about to show up in the missing persons report. Love’s poor play has only fueled local Bostonians’ hopes of landing him next season, so it could shape up to be one interesting offseason.

Contrary to Popular Belief, the NBA Finals Are Not Over

Oh, Cleveland. What are we going to do with you? First, we give you the self-proclaimed “King” of modern basketball in 2003, then we watch him cheat on you with a more attractive Miami team and win back-to-back championships. The sport Gods must have been feeling pretty bad for you after a couple of years, because in 2014 you were blessed with LeBron’s return and a promising first-round quarterback, so you should have been good to go… Right?

Well, now it’s 2016, Johnny Manziel looks more like 2011 Charlie Sheen than an NFL quarterback, and for the second straight year, LeBron James and the Cavaliers look utterly outmatched and downright awful in the NBA Finals. So, after a historically dreadful first two games, why is there any hope for Cleveland? It’s a seven game series, ya knuckleheads!

Sure, things went about as bad as they could possibly go in the first two contests, especially game 2, but the Cavaliers still have a chance to tie up the series with a couple home wins. Admittedly, that will be a steep hill to climb given what we’ve seen so far in this series, but it’s not like this Golden State team is some unstoppable juggernaut. As proven by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors have flaws. The only issue for the Cavaliers is, they have a lot more of them. As much as the Warriors played well in games 1 and 2, the Cavaliers looked void of any signs of life. Any time Richard Jefferson looks like the second best guy on the floor on a team with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, you have a serious problem.

The main issue for the Cavaliers appears to be the same issue they faced last year: inconsistent play from LeBron James’ supporting cast. This comes as somewhat of a shock given the return of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but even they have proved to be mediocre at best this series. Things only get worse as you move down the roster; at times you have to question whether Iman Shumpert is even taking any of this seriously.

The Cavalier bench inconsistencies are only magnified when matched up against what has proven to be one of the deeper rosters in NBA history. In Game 1, Curry and Thompson hardly had to lift a finger to secure the win. It seems that no matter who is shooting the ball for Golden State, it almost always finds its way into the net. This is the difference between a team with chemistry and a team with a bunch of good players.

Even if LeBron goes out with 30+ point games the rest of this series, he will only have himself to blame if he loses. He wanted Kyrie and Kevin. He wanted every last member of his supporting cast. He has had nothing but praise for Tyronne Lue. If the Cavaliers lose, there will be tough questions to answer. If they get swept, there will be hell to pay.

A lot of things need to suddenly come together at once for the Cavs to get back in this series, and it all starts with Kyrie Irving. We don’t even know if Love will be able to play yet, and if he doesn’t, this opens up the floor for Irving to come out and have a monster game. The Cavaliers don’t need a LeBron James domination. It would help, but they will get a lot more of a boost if other players step up and pitch in solid efforts. We’ve already seen what happens when it’s just the LeBron James show. Let’s see what happens if other guys can get in on the act tomorrow night at Quicken Loans Arena.

Warriors, Thunder Set to Clash in Colossal Game 7

After taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals, it seemed all but guaranteed that the Oklahoma City Thunder would advance to the NBA Finals. The Warriors were failing horribly against the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and it appeared as though the Thunder finally had the team they envisioned after trading away James Harden a few seasons prior.

Then, the Warriors got to work.

There was a sense of desperation for Golden State heading into Game 5, an emotion that likely hasn’t been felt by the 73-win squad in a long time. Warrior’s coach Steve Kerr wanted to get the energy in Oracle Arena pumping early, encouraging fans to come early and make plenty of noise. The Warriors were hot most of the game, and though the Thunder were able to grab a lead after a Westbrook 3-pointer with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter, Golden State was able to roar back for a decisive 120-111 victory.

For the Thunder, Game 6 was supposed to be their time to shine. They could afford to drop a game in Oakland, but coming back home, they were supposed to seal the deal. Things looked good for the Thunder throughout much of the game; they outscored the Warriors in the first three quarters and went into the fourth with an 83-75 lead. The finish line was right in front of them, and they tripped over their own feet. Actually, saying they tripped over their feet doesn’t do justice to the gravity of the situation. They were 15 minutes and an 8-point lead away from a ticket to the NBA Finals, playing in front of their home crowd, and they absolutely imploded. It’s a shame nobody in the audience knew how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, because the Thunder, specifically Russell Westbrook, were putting on an absolute choke job. Klay Thompson scored more points (19) than the entire Thunder roster (18) in the fourth quarter.

So, after a game like that, what are we in for tonight? Well, the general consensus is that it will be a closely contested game that will be replayed on NBA Hardwood Classics for years to come. It’s Memorial Day, everyone will be watching, and there is huge names on both teams. It has all the makings of an instant classic, but for some reason, I’m not so sure about that. The Warriors have only lost twice at home all season, and in a game like this with so much on the line, it’s very hard to see them faltering.

Obviously, the Thunder have proven that they are capable of beating the Warriors on their home floor, but this game is a whole new animal. Game 1 was the beginning of a feeling-out process. The Thunder didn’t carry much pressure at all going into that game, and that attitude carried all the way through to their 3-1 lead in the series. After losing game 5, they at least had a home game to look forward to, but now, there is no room for error.

It’s easy to make a statistical argument for why the Thunder could win this game. The combination of Durant and Westbrook certainly has the potential to outscore Curry and Thompson, and if Steven Adams can grab anywhere around his usual 10 rebounds, they could be in decent shape. That being said, when I say there is no room for error for the Thunder, there is literally no room. At all. If Curry gets hot and gets the crowd going, good luck. Once they get a double-digit lead, they become an invincible machine with no off-switch. Perhaps the scariest thing for the Thunder, however, is that Klay Thompson is just as equally capable of going on a hot streak from downtown as Curry; the Thunder learned that the hard way Saturday night. The only way the Thunder win this game is if they get off to a hot start and never look back. Chances of that are slim, however, and I’m only giving them an outside shot at winning this game. The way in which they lost the previous two games does not bode well for them playing on the road, and I expect the Warriors to pounce.

PREDICTION:

Warriors: 115

Thunder: 109

 

Curry 32, Thompson 27

Durant 25, Westbrook 34.

Westbrook will be fueled by his mistakes in the final minutes of Game 6, but the supporting cast around him and Durant won’t be able to produce. Adams and Ibaka will both finish with 8-10 points, and the rest of the team will fail to reach double digits.

5 Skip Bayless First Take Replacements We’d Love to See

It was announced at the end of April that Skip Bayless will be leaving ESPN after his contract expires in August, taking his talents (if you want to call them that) to Fox Sports, where he will reportedly take in between $5 million and $6 million per year.

Bayless, of course, is mostly known for his work on First Take, where he sits across from Stephen A. Smith, debating about the current events in sports and getting accidentally spit on every time Stephen A. says the letter “P”. Bayless has hosted the show since its creation back in 2007, begging the question; who will replace him?

Now, you can’t just throw in any old suit and expect him to be able to live up to Skip’s legacy, can you? There are certain qualities this person must have that set them apart from the pack. First and foremost, you must be able to make great predictions like this one:

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Oh, we also can’t forget about this one…

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If you thought that was good, wait until you see this last one:

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You almost have to try to be that awful at predicting something. That’s like a weatherman showing up to work on a 70-degree day and saying, “you know what? I should have brought my ice scraper!” You do know you do this for a living, right Skip? This guy makes $5 million a year to tell you Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, and Josh Freeman are the next big gunslingers in the NFL. With predictions like that, we’re going to need someone truly crazy to take his place. That being said, let’s dive into a few potential candidates:

1:   Keith Olbermann

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There are few people who have ever worked for ESPN that have the potential to stir up as much buzz as Keith Olbermann. Sure, his most recent stint on the network as the host of the ESPN2 program Olbermann was a complete flop, but the guy brings controversy everywhere he goes. This is generally seen as a negative thing, but on a show like First Take, controversy drives ratings. He is very much like Skip in that he has almost no filter, and he has enough credibility to be able to take on Stephen A. Smith on a daily basis. It would be when they replaced Steve with Joe on Blues’ Clues. Everyone knows you did it, but it’s still basically the same thing, so would anyone really even care?

2: Adnan Virk

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If you don’t recognize the name, you definitely recognize the face. While Virk’s main job with the network is anchoring SportsCenter, he also does work on a variety of other programs. He has proven to be a versatile commentator in a variety of outlets, including ESPN Radio where he subs in for the usual hosts from time-to-time.

3:  Jay Pharaoh as Stephen A. Smith

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Please. Just for one episode. I want to see Stephen A. Smith have to try and seriously debate with this mirror image of himself. Jay Pharaoh absolutely kills it with this impression, and seeing the two in one room would be priceless. This one is wishful thinking though, as Jay Pharaoh probably won’t be leaving SNL for ESPN any time soon.

4: Woody Paige

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Woody Paige during a broadcast of ESPN’s Cold Pizza from the Super Bowl XL Media Center at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan on January 30, 2006.

Many people know Woody Paige as a frequent panelist for Around the Horn. Woody is most noted for having a very raspy voice that never seems to be any lower than a shouting level. The guy sounds like he just climbed a mountain or ran a mile and sat down to do a television program directly after. He would be great with Stephen A. Smith, and it would basically just be replacing an old, outspoken white guy with an even older outspoken white guy.

5: Jim Rome

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Okay, I know this guy left ESPN a few years ago, but can you really think of anyone better suited to do a show about arguing and complaining than Jim Rome? It’s basically what the guy made a career from. Remember Jim Rome is Burning? Also, this guy got someone so mad they tried to strangle him on live television, so I can only imagine what would happen if they paired him with Smith.

Honorable Mentions:

What is Peyton Manning up to these days? I know that he would probably be awful on this show, but I would love to see him on T.V. very soon. This probably wouldn’t be the best gig for him, however, as he is more suited for commercials, and, well, more commercials.

It has been reported that Kobe Bryant has been working with the likes of Stephen Spielberg and other renowned directors as he launches his own company, Kobe Inc., but wouldn’t you love to see Kobe on television? The guy can seriously do anything and he will be good at it, so let’s see what he’s got.

 

 

 

Raptors Tie Series After Being Pronounced Dead Before The First Game

Going into the Eastern Conference Finals, it was widely predicted, no, widely expected, that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be able to handily defeat the Toronto Raptors. This notion was even further strengthened by the Cavaliers’ two dominant home wins to open the series. At this point, the conversation wasn’t even about the series at hand, but more about if Cleveland could complete a clean sweep of the Eastern Conference in the playoffs. Then, things moved to Toronto.

 

The Raptors won game 3 behind a strong rebounding performance from Bismack Biyombo, but that did little to change the narrative of the series. Though they exposed some of the Cavaliers’ weaknesses, Toronto was still not expected by pundits to win another game in the series.

 

Well, well, well.

 

Game Four began exactly how Toronto needed it to; strong play by the likes of Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, and sturdy defense from Biyambo. Judging by Lowry’s 35 points, he managed to find time to “decompress” before the game instead of during it. Tyronn Lue had a bizarre approach to the game, giving big minutes to LeBron and throwing the rest of the team in confusion. It looked a lot like an overreaction to what happened the previous game, and it didn’t work. Not even close. In fact, the Raptors jumped out to a fairly quick 18-point lead in front of an energized crowd at the Air Canada Centre, and held an advantage until the waning minutes of the game. Sure, ESPN and other major outlets will talk about what the Cavaliers did wrong and how LeBron wasn’t put in a position to succeed, but here’s a thought: what if the Raptors just beat them?

 

Toronto’s Achilles heel all postseason has been their lack of consistency. It’s why their previous two series have gone to 7 games when they really could’ve been wrapped up sooner. Regardless of what Cleveland’s game plan was entering this game, the Raptors clearly had more energy, more determination, and more heart. The difference between Toronto’s first two series and this one, however, is that inconsistent play will not get them to a seventh game. Rather, they will need to play at a nearly perfect level the rest of the series. However, the way the game ended should give some pause to Toronto fans about how Game 5 will play out.

 

After making some halftime adjustments, the Cavaliers came out guns-blazing, including 6 three pointers in the third quarter to cut the Raptor lead to 9. Cleveland was even able to snag a lead with just over 5 minutes remaining in the game, following a stretch where they scored on 16 straight possessions. Kyrie Irving also got hot in the second half, finishing with 26 points. All of this was too little too late, however, as the Raptors were able to finish strong and thwart the comeback.

 

So, all of a sudden, the series that was an all but certain sweep is tied at 2-2, and Toronto will live to play another home game on Friday. Is it possible that we could see this thing go seven games? Absolutely. Cleveland will have a chance to get a grip on the series again tomorrow night, but the Raptors at home looked like an entirely different team. Additionally, if Kevin Love plays another game in this series like the one he played last night, the Cavaliers could be toast in the finals, if they even make it that far. Love was 4 for 14, finishing with just 10 points. On top of that, he appeared to injure his ankle in the fourth quarter, sitting out the remainder of the game. Lue said after the game that the injury isn’t a concern, but had love been on the floor for those final minutes, we could be looking at a 3-1 series.

Going forward for the Raptors, Kyle Lowry is going to be very important. As he heats up, so does the rest of the team. However, when he’s cold, as we saw in the first two games of this series, its bad news for Toronto. After the game, DeRozan said of Lowry “It’s a cakewalk for me when he gets going. It opens up everything.” It’s easy to forget what things were like a few games ago when things weren’t going so well for the Raptors. For the time being, all the pressure will be on Cleveland tomorrow night at the Quicken Loans Arena.

Durant, Thunder Wipe Warriors in Game 1

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Golden State Warriors 108-102 last night at Oracle Arena, and it may have been all the Thunder needed to steal this series.

The Thunder, led by 28 from Russell Westbrook and 27 from Kevin Durant, trailed for most of the game. It had all the makings of a traditional Warriors series-opening win: the crowd was deafening, Stephen Curry hit an amazing buzzer-beating shot to end the first half, and Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Curry all finished with over 20 points. However, for what seems like the first time this entire season, none of it mattered.

The Thunder were able to cancel out the raucous home crowd at Oracle Arena and mount an improbable second half comeback, holding the potent Warriors offense to just 14 points in the fourth quarter. The run was highlighted by a clutch Durant jumper with just over 30 seconds left in the game. Oklahoma City looked calm and prepared in the fourth quarter, the same place team after team this season have looked dazed and confused. The Warriors gave the Thunder their best Rougned Odor slug to the jaw, but Durant, Westbrook and Oklahoma City took it like Jose Bautista.

With the win, all the Thunder have to do now is win their three home games and they advance to the NBA Finals. That is much easier said than done, as they are facing a motivated Warriors team determined to advance to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. After the game, Curry said of the loss “It’s not a good feeling losing Game 1, especially at home. It’s fun to have this opportunity to come back, show what we’re made of.”

The Thunder got a big assist from third-year center Steven Adams, who chipped in for 16 points. That doubles his usual output of 8.0 PPG, and the Thunder will need performances like this if they hope to continue their momentum against Golden State.

This win was very much a surprise to fans and the NBA community, but it begs the question; can the Thunder keep this up? Golden State has a far deeper bench, and arguably three of the five best players on the court in Curry, Thompson and Green. If there’s one area the Thunder should be able to expose the Warriors, its rebounding. Durant, Adams and Serge Ibaka combined for 33 total rebounds, while the team as a whole came away with 52 to the Warriors’ 44. If the Thunder can make the most of their offensive opportunities, something they couldn’t do for much of this first game, we will have ourselves a heck of a series going into game 2 on Wednesday.

OTHER TAKEAWAYS:

Craig Sager:

This guy is just a boss. Dude gets diagnosed with a terminal illness and still shows up to work in a wacky suit with a smile on his face. I hope we get a few more crazy outfits before the season is over, and our fingers are crossed this guy can fight this and be back for the 2016-17 season.

Steve Kerr and Seinfeld:

Midway through the first quarter, Steve Kerr had a lighthearted moment with a referee, making a Seinfeld “Festivus” joke. Nice try Steve. These refs are cold blooded, you could make him roll on the ground laughing and then the next second you’ll be screaming in his face for calling a technical on Draymond. Interesting approach though.

Bogut Flagrant on Westbrook:

I think Westbrook might have pulled out his old flopping tricks on this one. When I first watched this, I thought he hit his face on the hardwood with the way he reacted. Sure, Bogut probably had some pretty sweaty, stinky hands by this point in the game, but let’s not act like it was that bad, Russell.