Tag Archives: LeBron

DubNation: Here Comes Revenge

I return this nightmare I will find you.

Sleepless, cloaked in despair, I’m behind you

Far too late for frail amends, now its time for Sweet Revenge

Sweet Revenge I’m Dreaming….I will end you

The snickers, the derisive tones, the 3-1 jokes will come to an end when these NBA Finals are over in a few weeks.

That is because the Golden State Warriors 2017 Seek and Destroy mission is only missing one thing……the decimation of Cleveland.

How does that happen and why I believe this thing will be over sooner rather than later ?

  1. Revenge Factor……these aren’t the Washington Generals that want a piece of LeBron and the Cavaliers. This is a team that has gone 207-39 over the last three years. And, despite what the talking heads want you to believe this team is driven by one sole purpose, BEATING CLEVELAND….PERIOD. The fire burns hot in the guts of these Warriors who were shocked, stunned and frankly embarrassed by their 2016 Finals meltdown. This entire season has built to this point. Don’t under-estimate the fire that burns below.
  2. Warriors are just better…….When healthy and at full strength (which they are) the Golden State Warriors are simply better than Cleveland. Their multi-faceted star-studded attack. Their trio of deadly three-point shooters and more importantly their ability to defend. The most-underrated aspect of the Dubs is their ability to defend as a team. Their help-side is some of the best in the league and Cleveland isn’t in their same league. WHEN Cleveland wants to, they can defend at an elite level in spurts. But, consistently you can get good to great shots against the Cavaliers. This will ultimately be their downfall.
  3. TRUST…..The only player I trust on Cleveland to play well in each and every game is LeBron James. To be fair the player the Warriors should most fear is Kyrie Irving. His clutch gene was on full display in the Cavaliers Finals comeback last season. Trust is one of the biggest reasons why the Warriors are so great. They trust each other. They believe in each other. They recommitted themselves to this organizational doctrine after last year’s Game 7 last 5-minute debacle when they went off script and quit trusting and quit sharing. I don’t see that this time around. The Warriors have learned from the ills of last year and the weaponry is different. Their ability to play off of one another and not solely focus on going for “theirs” is what separates this team from 2016. If I’m Cleveland do I trust Kevin Love to make big shots down six with three minutes to go ? I wouldn’t…..
  4. Lest we forget…….Something strange happened on the way to the Warriors blowing that 3-1 lead and Cleveland capturing “The Land” their first basketball title. We forgot how God-awful Kevin Love was the entire series. We also forgot how terrible Kyrie Irving played in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena to give the Dubs a 3-1 series lead. Watch the game. I have, he was dismal. Now, Irving responded with three amazing and clutch games over the final three, but the margin for error for this Cleveland team is much smaller than Golden State’s. Irving needs to be great ALL THE TIME. Love needs to be great ALL THE TIME. If they aren’t, this thing won’t be competitive.
  5. IT’S TIME…….If Kevin Durant wants to cement his greatness he will perform and excel in this series. It’s pretty damn simple. He left OKC because he didn’t want to play with a ball-hogging selfish stat accumulator in Russell Westbrook and he wanted to win in a free-flowing selfless brand and style of basketball. He has helped bring the Warriors to the precipice of a championship and it is his time to shine. No, not by scoring 40 points a game but by helping Steph lead this group with the same selfless style that had them win 67 regular season and 12 straight playoff games. It’s Durant’s time to shine. If he tries to do it by himself, then that is when trouble could creep in. He must remember why he came here and trust that the guys he is in the fox-hole with will help him bring it home.
  6. NO KLAY….NO RING…….As confident as I am that the Warriors are going to win this thing, the only thing that would bring me trepidation is if the Warriors don’t feed Klay Thompson and try to get him going. You notice that I don’t think the Warriors MUST get Klay going, but they need to make the effort like they did in the San Antonio series. I saw Curry, Draymond and Durant all pass up numerous open shots and opportunities to try and get Klay going. He never did. That’s OK. I believe if the Warriors get Klay on track then it opens EVERYTHING up for the squad and it will be “all she wrote.”  Klay needs to find his shot. If its not there, then take the ball aggressively to the hole, back-cut get a lay-up, get to the line. He is too good a player to not be a threat. The Warriors know this.
  7. I LOVE CURRY……..Yes, I love yellow curry, green curry, and red curry. I also love that Steph Curry is being discounted in these Finals. The story-lines are all about LeBron chasing Michael and Durant’s legacy. I think Steph needs a great Finals to cement his. Cleveland is going to attack him at every turn, running him off of screens and making him work for all his looks. The problem for the Cavaliers is they will not be seeing the hampered Steph of 2016 or the deferring and dis-engaged Steph of December and January. This current Steph is engaged, in-sync, and playing spry and ruthlessly. I think Cleveland will have a very difficult time defending him with the Warriors dizzying ball movement. LeBron may need this, as does KD, but Steph needs this as well.

 

NBA FINALS: Warriors as national villains ??

 

Not only has the NBA Finals not gone according to plan but something almost unthinkable has also transpired. LeBron James and his merry band of complementary pieces have turned into sympathetic figures on the national stage. Think about that, LeBron James as a sympathetic, “woe is me” figure.

I am seeing story after story painting the Cavaliers has this little train that could and building up the story-line of this upstart little Cleveland team taking on the big, bad Warriors. What kind of alternate universe am I living in ? When the did the Warriors and their run-and-gun style turn into what’s wrong with basketball ?

The LeBron love is at an all-time high. The gushing in a lot of circles is over the top. I can also understand it. He is doing something that has never been done before. He is leading a band of role players toward a possible NBA Championship. He is inspiring ordinary and mediocre players to play spectacularly. He has them believing they are better than they really are. It is quite the story.

With that said, the Dubs have suddenly turned into the villains. The nation wants to see LeBron lead his band to an improbable title. Everyone wants to see it except for us long-suffering Bay Area basketball fans. The vitriol and even the hate towards the Warriors is quite alarming. I haven’t seen so many national media members and fans of the game denigrate the Warriors like this……EVER.

I hope the national media is lamenting this Warriors title. I hope when the Warriors win this championship there is frustration, angst and anxiety among national fan bases. I don’t care what they think or how they feel. This is our team. This is our quest. We are told to recognize LeBron’s greatness. I say recognize us, the DubNation.

Cleveland has had their fun. Reality sets in tonight.

Warriors in 6

NBA FINALS: Cavaliers grab 2-1 series lead as listless Warriors cede control

 

At the outset of the series I wrote that the team that was more mentally tough would win the series. So far the Cleveland Cavaliers have shown the Golden State Warriors how a championship team should compete for basketball’s biggest prize.

The media experts will try to convince you that there is some strategic genius to what the Cavaliers are doing, there really isn’t. They are winning this 2015 NBA Finals with guts and guile. A willingness to play as hard as they possibly can and leaving the rest for the weary. Matthew Dellavedova epitomizes the grit of this team. He is out-manned and out-gunned at every turn yet his hustle and determination wins him possessions and helped the Cavaliers grab control of the series

LeBron James was super again with 40 points 12 rebounds and 8 assists, but Dellavedova’s 20 points gave the Cavaliers that second option to give them a 2-games-to-1 lead.

What has to be infuriating for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is it appears the Warriors aren’t exerting the same effort as Cleveland. Kerr wasn’t about to bury his team in the post-game, instead he simply praised their effort in the 4th quarter. We all know how he felt about their effort through the first three-quarters. Despite only losing the game 96-91, the Dubs trailed by 20 late in the third quarter and simply dug to big of a hole. Kerr said he didn’t like how his team began to feel sorry for themselves in the waning moments of the 3rd.

Tell me about it Coach……

Steph Curry even intimated that the Warriors are not coming out with enough energy at the starts of these games. How does that even happen ? How do you play nine months of basketball at the highest level in the world. You are suddenly playing for the sports biggest prize and you aren’t playing with enough energy, not playing hard, getting out-worked and out-hustled by a team with inferior talent. I can not begin to comprehend how that is even possible.

Kobe Bryant had this amazing tweet in the aftermath of the Game 3 carnage for the Warriors tonight……

‏@kobebryant
Cavs playing as if their life is on the line G.S playing as if they have more #NBAFinals down the line #ThisIsNOW #competitionIsEverything

Nuff said.

The Warriors scored 35 points combined in the second and third quarters. They scored 36 alone in the 4th quarter when they played with a sense of frenetic energy and pace. Unless this team is prepared to expend that 4th quarter like energy then they will be in trouble in Game 4.

Draymond Green is nursing a sore back after a hard fall in the 4th quarter of Game 2. He certainly didn’t look like himself in Game 3 and that is bad news for Golden State. The Warriors have relied on his stretch-4 abilities all year to make shots, board and make decisions off of the Curry double-team. David Lee filled in admirably and gave the Dubs a shot in the arm with some spirited 4th quarter play. He is sure to get more minutes in Game 4.

Harrison Barnes was beyond awful. He missed wide open jumpers off of creative dribble attacks by his mates. He even missed a bunny lay-up with no one near him. Barnes must be better.

Andrew Bogut is getting dominated by Timofey Mozgov. At the start of the series I thought the combination of Bogut and Festus Ezeli could play that to a draw at least. Bogut looks worn down and slow and Ezeli has great energy but sometimes his decision-making on the offensive and defensive ends is lacking.

The Warriors bench is playing well but with such sub-par performances by starters Green, Barnes and Bogut the Warriors are in deep.

The troubling aspects of this series so far from the Warriors perspective have nothing to do with X’s and O’s. It has everything to do with the Warriors heart, guts, energy, will-to-win and belief. If they don’t find it, and find it soon they will be on the losing end of one of the great upsets in sports history.

Game 4 is Thursday in Cleveland

NBA FINALS GAME 2 PREVIEW: Irving out for Finals; LeBron presented with rare opportunity

 

If you are to believe the national media the 2015 NBA Finals are now over and there is really no need to play the remainder of the series……how disappointing.

Despite the clear advantage the Warriors have with the season ending injury to Kyrie Irving, this series is far from over. The last I checked a bad dude by the name of LeBron James is still healthy and still plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The moment, the circumstance the scene was made for this guy and now he will have something he has never had to play with before…….the expectation of NOT winning.

No one expects Cleveland to win. No one. Not a soul in their right mind thinks the Cavaliers minus Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao can win. But, there is one bad dude who will see this as the opportunity of a lifetime. Even people who don’t normally cheer for LeBron will now give him the benefit of the doubt with his decimated club lying in tatters around him.  If James can somehow pull this off I believe it would be one of the great sports feats in the history of team sport.

The national media was really pouring it on today. From ESPN to the NBA Sirius/XM channel to Mad Dog Radio. Not one host was giving the Cavaliers a shot to win the series. In fact they were declaring if Cleveland got this thing to six games it would be a minor miracle.

I’m not buying it.

I love sports because of the unpredictability. No one knows what will happen. That is why we love it. Did any of us see the Seahawks throwing the ball from the one-yard line in the Super Bowl on 1st down? Did anyone see the San Francisco Giants win six elimination games on their way to the 2012 World Series? Did anyone see a band of bandits run through the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament against bigger and badder teams in 1983 and win the national tournament like Jim Valvano’s NC State Wolfpack?

Sports is not scripted. We don’t know how it will turn out. We have a feeling. We think we know. On paper it says the game should turn out a certain way. But, we watch because sometimes we are shocked and stunned by the result.

If LeBron can do this, we should start etching that profile into the Mount Rushmore of all-time greats. If he can do this it would be one of the great feats in the history of sport. For the first time in his athletic life, LeBron James is being given no chance. The Warriors better take notice. They do not need to become the Baltimore Orioles of 1969 or the Washington Bullets of 1975. The Dubs have come too far over the last 40 years for this 80-18 team to become a footnote in basketball lore.

FINISH THEM……..

NBA FINALS GAME 1: Dubs win overtime thriller; Kyrie gets hurt; Dubs up 1-0

 

UPDATED:  June 5 6:35am with full game highlights

It was a thriller and some how and some way the Golden State Warriors were able to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-100 in overtime in Game 1 on the NBA Finals.  LeBron James played another incredible post-season game scoring 44 points but took 38 shots to get there, while dishing off only 6 assists. Those are numbers that Golden State will take every game.

The Warriors were led by Steph Curry’s 26 points and 8 assists as the Dubs battled back from a 14-point first quarter deficit to move within three wins of their franchises’ first title in 40 years.

James had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds but his 21-foot left-wing fade careened off the rim,  Iman Shumpert grabbed the loose ball and hoisted up a desperation fling that just fell short as time expired sending the game into overtime.

Once in OT the Dubs clamped down on defense and the big minutes from the Cavaliers starters seemed to catch up with them as they missed their first 12 shots leading to the Warriors eight point win.

TALKING POINTS

The Warriors will absolutely live with LeBron James taking 38 shots. If he is taking roughly 25 shots and dishing off 8-to-10 assists the Cavaliers are much better. JR Smith was only 3-for-13 and seemed to disappear after knocking down his first two three’s. Kyrie Irving was simply amazing before crumpling to the hardwood and aggravating an already sore knee in the last few minutes. This could be a series changer. Irving was dynamic offensively in putting up 23 points before the injury. Cavs fans need to bust out the rosary beads praying for his health or else this could be a short series.

The Cavaliers post players had their way with Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are a load and the Warriors didn’t have answers. When Mozgov and Thompson were on the floor together, the Dubs were lost. But, the problem for Cleveland is they don’t have a bench that comes close to duplicating what those twin towers give them. The Cavaliers decimated the Warriors on the boards in the first and third quarters, the Warriors, with their depth, were able to repay the favor in the second and fourth quarters and get the game even.

The Warriors were the Warriors. I had a feeling they would take their medicine with LeBron and see if he could beat them by himself, and he almost did. The fear if the Warriors double Lebron is that JR Smith and Shumpert will start feeling their oats. For the Warriors that can not happen and they did a good job of staying disciplined with that approach even as it seemed the game might slip out of their grasp. The Warriors will face multi-faceted challenges if the triumvirate of James, Smith and Shumpert are in a rhythm. So, by singling James, and playing straight up and not helping off of the others you do take your medicine. But, it also gives you the best chance to win.

Andre Iguodala was amazing. He scored 15 points but his job on LeBron was admirable. When Iggy guarded LeBron the King shot 4-for-14 and turned the ball over 3 times. James scored ONLY 11 of his 44 when guarded by Iguodala. He is clearly the Warriors best option to defend James. Warriors fans may have to put up with James scoring 40 maybe even 50 points in games in this series, but as long as James isn’t getting his mates involved the Warriors will be in good shape.

It’s not a coincidence that the Warriors made their runs in the second and fourth quarters. That is when the Dubs got to rely on the great depth of their bench to get after the Cavaliers second unit. There isn’t a comparison between the two reserve squads. The Dubs outscored the Cavs bench 35-to-9. The only bench player who saw minutes tonight for the Warriors and didn’t play well was Leandro Barbosa. I expect him to play better in Game 2 on Sunday. Shaun Livingston, Festus Ezeli along with Mo Speights all played well and the Warriors will need them the rest of the way.

Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes did what they have done all season and combined for 58 of the Dubs 108. Despite the team-wide slow start the Warriors found their rhythm and were able to get Game 1 in a game that lived up to the billing.  The knee injury to Kyrie Irving is just a massive storyline. Even if he is not 100 percent, the threat of what he can bring and his ability to knock down a perimeter jumper will help Cleveland. Matthew Dellavedova is solid, but he can’t be playing 20-25 minutes in this series. As Lebron said in the post-game if Irving can not go “its next man up.” Can that next man be effective enough to counter the superior depth of the Warriors. We’ll see……….

Game 2 is Sunday with the Warriors having a chance to go up 2-games-to-none.

Hey Bron Bron, about that DECISION…….

Oh, let the great mea culpa begin. If I am reading the tea leaves correctly the Cleveland Cavaliers are about to bag the biggest free agent of them all in a coup’ de’ tat of epic proportions.

While there has not been an official announcement it appears Le Bron James is about to call Cleveland his basketball home once again. After being non-committal with Heat President Pat Riley in Vegas today, there are some subtle signs that LeBron is going to let bygones’ be bygones and return to his home town team.

If LeBron returns it will be of Prodigal Son proportions. James not only left Cleveland four years ago, but he left them in the cruelest fashion. This was not leaving a loved-one at the altar type of break-up. It was a Rory McIlroy break-up. Let’s mail the invitations, have dinner with the fam, call a presser, and then dump you while your family is watching.

As bad as LeBron looked with his media manipulated decision, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert looked just as bad. He played the jilted lover role so well. He was bitter, scorned and hurt and it showed for the whole world to see. The Cleveland fans in my opinion had every right to be PISSED. And they let the self-proclaimed King know it. They burned his jersey, they made hilarious parody Nike commercials, they dis-owned a player more than I have ever seen a player dis-owned by his home-town.

Now, with this amazing turn of events, LeBron could be returning to the scene of the break-up. Not only looking to make amends, but looking to lead the jilted lover to the promised land. How do the fans react ? How do the fans deal with this ?

We have precedent.

When Al Davis crapped on Oakland Raider fans in the early 80’s he was vilified by Raider faithful. His name was dirty language in the Bay Area. When Davis starting flirting with the Oakland again, many of those same fans were not going to be screwed over again. “A pox on you Al Davis, a pox on your team.” But, there was a core of fans that stayed faithful to Davis. Forgetting that it was the same man who had taken their beloved team away some 20 years earlier. They forgave the gangster, and welcomed him back with open arms, even  at the expense of funding police officers and schools. The city of Oakland guaranteed Davis sell-outs, and even if the Raiders failed to sell the games out, the city would make up the difference. A colossal financial failing.

I expect Cleveland to welcome back James overwhelmingly. They will forgive and forget. They will cheer their favorite son wildly. They will take their tattered and torn James jersey’s that they were using to line the bottom’s of their bird cages and throw them in the washer. If they had burned their jersey’s, they will fork over another 149.99 to get another one. Why ? Because James’ return promises something greater than sports vitriol. It promises a championship. Oh yes, the magic elixir, a beautiful, wonderful, miraculous championship. If James can deliver that, then THE DECISION of five years ago will be nothing but a forgettable footnote in the return of their favorite son.

Cramp-Gate

The internet is a flame with criticisms of LeBron James having to leave Game 1 of the NBA Finals because of cramping in his legs. Novice nutritionists are blasting James for his “lack of toughness” and for being “soft.”

I strenuously object to this characterization.

Anyone who knows me can vouch that I am far from a LeBron apologist. While I respect his immense talent, and keen sense of marketing, I will never forget LeBron choosing to take the “easier” road to a title and joining with other superstars, rather than trying to gut it out for his home-town team. But, that is neither here nor there. At issue is CrampGate 2014 and whether the self-proclaimed “King” is soft. I say no way.

If you have ever played sports or competed at a high level, there is a good chance at some point in your athletic endeavors you had to deal with cramps. They can be mild or they can disabling and debilitating. What I saw from James last night was a guy who, physically “appeared” human for the first time in his career. The porous conditions with no air conditioning brought him to his knees, literally.

I can not criticize James for bowing out with those cramps. I have had cramps like that before. They can be excruciating. You can’t move. Your muscles lock up, and any attempt to move brings horrible pain. It’s not something to be laughed at or made fun of.  I would venture that most of these people ripping James for not playing have never played a day of competitive sports in their lives. They are the same people who look at every opportunity to “tear down.” Heck, I was that guy earlier in my life. It’s ugly, and actually pretty pathetic.

I find it interesting that most athletes who were “tweeting” their reactions to LeBron’s injury were sympathetic. The only criticism I have of James is that he should probably have been more diligent in replenishing his body with potassium and electrolytes. With such airid conditions and temperatures hovering near 90 degrees on the court it’s important to stay hydrated. This isn’t so much on James, but it’s on the training staff for the Miami Heat, who knew the air-conditioning was off since the beginning of the game. If I am the Heat trainer, I have those players constantly replacing fluids AND I have them eating bananas. The potassium that bananas provide would assuredly guard against cramping.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told media today that his players were trying to stay hydrated and they “were drinking fluids.” That isn’t good enough. These were extraordinary circumstances which required the Heat training staff to be pro-active in trying to prevent the Heat’ players from succumbing to the rare conditions. That is their job.

I still really want the Spurs to win this thing. But, I will not criticize LeBron James for leaving Game 1 because of cramps. I have been there and done that, and it’s nothing to be trivialized.