Ladies and Gentlemen! Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats. Yes, right this way. Good, yes, everyone comfortable? Fantastic.
/takes deep breath
OH MY SWEET BABY LORD JEZEBEL, STOP WHINING ABOUT THE NBA RIGGING THIS SERIES AND UPGRADING DRAYMOND’S FOUL, AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL YOU HOLD DEAR JUST STOP!! STOP COMPLAINING, STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR YOUR MISFORTUNES, STOP INVENTING A SHADOWY GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY WHEREIN THE LEAGUE MAKES MORE MONEY FOR EXTRA GAMES AND Y’ALL ARE JUST STRAIGHT...
/runs out of breath, crowd files out angrily
Okay, wow. Had to get that off my chest.
But, yo, for real. Let’s have normal human discourse. Let’s sit down and look at some of these facts, even if it might be painful.
Fact #1: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving did something that had never been done before
Sure, Draymond Green being out had something to do with that. BUT, both of those dudes were on fire last night. It’s a disservice to them -- and to your NBA fandom as a whole -- to discount their performances. They were really, really, really good last night. Give them their due props and move on.
At the end of the game, when the going got tough, Kyrie and LeBron asserted their will and ensured that this series is going back to Cleveland. Vice versa, the Warriors were unable to do anything productive, as they went 1-10 from behind the arc in the final quarter.
Fact #2: With a chance to shine, Harrison Barnes crapped the bed
Harrison is looking for a max (ish) deal. Let me take a moment to just... I can’t figure out whether to cry, laugh, or laughcry — that is the funniest thing I’ve heard since...
Understatement of the year: Harrison Barnes is not playing well. Last night, he finished 2-14 from the field with five rebounds. Time after time, he missed wide open shots. In fact, fully half of his shots were completely wide open, per SportsVU tracking data. Missing Draymond, in a game where he could have finally taken advantage of all those open looks, Harrison came up about as short as you can.
One of my good buddies, Kirk Henderson from Mavs Moneyball, wrote a scathing indictment of Barnes after last night's no show. For real, you should read the whole piece (detailing why Kirk is terrified of the Mavs signing Barnes to a max), but here was one of my favorite parts:
Barnes is an O.J. Mayo redux. You remember that situation, right? A former high school superstar in need of a second chance on a NBA team? Mayo got his minutes and rode a single hot month with the Mavericks to a three-year deal with the Bucks. While riding that hot month he performed like hot garbage time and again as Rick Carlisle broke his spirit as he attempted to get more from a talented player. That's the Harrison Barnes trajectory. That's the guy who has shot 42 percent from the field in the playoffs despite a ridiculous number of open looks.
Fact #3: The NBA is not sitting high and mighty behind the scenes ensuring that this series goes seven games
This is basically akin to saying "JFK was not killed by the CIA" and expecting common sense to win out in the comment sections, but... C’mon guys.
One of my best friends (I will love him til the end, no matter what sort of nonsense he texts me during games) sent the following message during last night’s Game 5:
The NBA is as money-driven as our politics; the only difference is the outcome doesn’t matter.
Which, okay, I get on some fundamental level.
Do I think the NBA wants this to go seven? Sure, I think the NBA would love for this series to go to seven. But there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD that they have the type of power that would enable LeBron and Kyrie to both go off for 40 points. The league can affect games by suspending people or by inserting certain refs. But they cannot play the actual game on the actual basketball court. If the Warriors had played better, they would have won. It really is just that simple. If LeBron and Kyrie hadn’t both played the best games of their lives on the same night with their backs against the wall, the Warriors would have won.
In the end (and as Andy said earlier), that type of performance is not sustainable. The Cavaliers can’t expect that level of sustained shot making brilliance in each subsequent game. The Cavs will revert back to their averages, LeBron’s jumper will stop being concocted out of magical unicorn bloodmagic, and the Warriors will hit their threes.
Draymond will return, the defense will respond in kind, and the Warriors will reassert themselves as the dominant team in this series.
Fact #4: Well, really this is just a question. What is going on with Kevin Love?
Kyrie Irving: 41 points— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 14, 2016
LeBron James: 41 points
Kevin Love: 2 points pic.twitter.com/J93Tv8yTPH
It's become a fascinating Finals and somehow I'm having more Kevin Love emails/convos/texts than anything else. So many theories out there.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 14, 2016
Utterly intriguing and strange.
Fact #5: If the Warriors win Game 6, it will be a year to the day since they won their first title
crazy thing is if the series goes to 6, Game 6 falls on June 16 - one year ago exactly Dubs won title in Cleveland— Julie Phayer (@juliephayer) June 12, 2016
I think we all need to take a breath (or, like ten thousand breaths, a long walk in the forest, and five Xanax) and remember that the Warriors are still in a very strong position. They are still up 3-2, with their second best (arguably first best in this series) player returning to the court with an even-bigger-than-normal-which-is-saying-a-lot chip on his shoulder. Draymond Green will be steaming when he takes the court in Game 6. We are talking dragon-on-fire-breathing-molten-lava levels of steaming.
After Andrew Bogut went down with injury, Steve Kerr elected to go crazy small, playing James Michael McAdoo for extended periods of a potential close out game in the Finals. If this was the scenario you envisioned en route to another champagne parade, you should think about playing the lottery. Or investing in startups or something.
Green's return will help the Warriors' interior defense, and will make the potential loss of Bogut more palatable. I think Kerr starts the Death Lineup from the get go, LeBron and Kyrie both cool down, and the Warriors break open the bubbly in the visitor's locker room for the second straight year on June 16th.
You know, unless the shadow forces of the CIA/NBA/Illuminati triumvirate swoop in and cut off Curry's right arm or something.