I'm going to start by prefacing some aspects of this series because there was no other way to start this piece beyond just random words and thoughts. Here are my scattered thoughts and then attempts at stringing together words and hoping they turn into coherent sentences and then perhaps into something you can read and understand.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers are not the Memphis Grizzlies. The pace, the ground-and-pound game, the defense, and the constant hounding of Stephen Curry on and off the ball are accurate. But Memphis could never score enough points when they needed to close out games. The Cavs have that one guy. That one guy who's the greatest player on Earth, in our generation, and the next.
LeBron James has scored, assisted, or created 200 of the Cavaliers' 291 points through the first 3 games of the #NBAFinals. Beyond unreal.— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) June 10, 2015
- The Golden State Warriors, especially Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala are more worried about complaining to the referees after borderline calls than focusing on their own style of play. It isn't up to the Los Angeles Clippers level of whining yet but it is certainly taking away from their work as a team. It isn't pretty, and to be fair, it really is not necessary. The referees aren't losing them these games.
- Matthew Dellevadova had an awesome game, including the biggest shot off the bank with the foul as GSW closed to within one. It does not, however, take away from the fact he went into Draymond Green's knees. Green did try to blindside him but going at a person's knees is disgusting behavior. I respect the good play but type of play should not be allowed not only in professional settings but anywhere in this world.
- Stephen Curry is back.
- The David Lee and Draymond Green debate is on once again. Of course, it all works relatively. Green said postgame his back is locking up on him and he's lost some explosiveness. Enter David Lee in his Barry Zito moment. Able to take advantage of the doubles Stephen Curry perpetually faces, he made nifty drop-down passes to the baseline, swung to the corner for open 3s , and able to finish or get fouled at the rim. Unlike Green, he looked in control and mindful of his surroundings. I'd look for about 15-20 minutes from him along with more Festus Ezeli in place of Andrew Bogut - who looks worn down. And unbelievably enough, I think this swings the series in terms of adjustments. There is only so much an undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers can do with their schemes at this point. This is how they'll play the rest of the series, adjustments or not. The Warriors might have found a strategy that the Cavs can't take advantage of only because they don't have the offense to kill the Lee-at-4-or-5 defense.
- Harrison Barnes is currently watching the extension money he earned in the Houston Rockets burn a hole in Festus Ezeli's pocket.
- LeBron James wins this series and he is absolutely in the discussion as the greatest basketball player of all time. Ridiculous.
So here we are. In the world's biggest stage, the Golden State Warriors stumbled, whined, and played flustered to the point where it looked like the arena would rattle off its hinges and send back right back to the Bay Area.
Then it happened. Everyone expected it to right itself at some point. It came too late but it arrived, by some fashion. One splash, two, three, and it kept on going. Right up until the last two, one around and through three screens before draining it in a 7-footer's face, and then the last behind the backboard falling out of bounds. Stephen Curry regained the shooting stroke. It was never gone, only out for a break. And that remains the story of this series.
It isn't about how well LeBron James plays. It isn't about Cleveland's defense. Both have been superb and, really, should be sustainable throughout the rest of the series. The series-changer, and perhaps change the narratives of structure in a way we have never seen? How will Stephen Curry respond now with everything on the line; with his teammates so wretched on offense; with an entire season falling apart if only a small defeat at a time.
Harrison Barnes needs to nail open shots. Draymond Green needs to take open shots. Andrew Bogut might want to put a body on someone. The list goes on and on but none of it truly matters as long as Stephen Curry is out there picking everyone right back up, a drained contested 3 at a time. For what the Golden State Warriors are, an elite offense, the best defense in the league, historically great 67-win team, best point differential since the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, stacked coaching staff, it's always about Stephen Curry.
It was that way for the Mark Jackson Warriors and on its highest level, it remains the same for the Steve Kerr Warriors. Game 4 is Thursday night and everything rests on the slim shoulders of Stephen Curry. The Warriors hope they play to the size of the ones of that guy on the other team.