(Featured Photo – Associated Press)
We are hitting the final stretch of the NBA Playoffs and after THREE FULL DAYS OF NO BASKETBALL, we have started the conference finals.
Both matchups could have easily been predicted at the beginning of the season, but the journeys for each of the four teams definitely couldn’t have been predicted. Curry’s ankle problems came back, the doubt of the Chris Paul/James Harden experiment was found to be pointless, the Celtics have continued to advance without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward, and
LeBron James the Cavs traded everyone mid-season.
After the four teams fought to get here, we finally got to see who would start off their respective series up 1-0. The Celtics clobbered the Cavs, 108-83, and the Warriors beat the Rockets in Houston, 119-106. Per usual with the internet age of the NBA, people were quick to get to their takes! Overreactions are always abundant these days after Game 1s, but things will inevitably change as the series goes along. Here are some things that happened during the two Game 1s, that will probably change going forward.
Celtics and Cavs
The Cavs being Abysmal from the 3-Point Line
15.4% from the 3-point line is what the expert NBA analysts like to call, “fucking bad”.
The Cavs only made 4 of their 26 threes. That 15.4% mark was tied for their lowest percentage from 3 in a game since the All-Star break (March 27th against the Heat), when they got all of their new players at the trade deadline. In fact, it is their lowest 3P% in a game since April 12th, 2015, when the Cavs only made 13.6% of their threes.
If you look at these current playoffs, their second-worst three point performance was the Game 1 loss against the Indiana Pacers in the first round, with 23.5%. That was quickly forgotten, as the Cavs followed it up with a 39.3% performance, tying the series at one a piece.
The point is, J.R. Smith won’t go 0-of-3 from three every game, Kyle Korver won’t go 1-of-5 every game, and LeBron James sure as shit isn’t going to go 0-of-5 every game. Expect a return closer to their 37.7% average they had after the All-Star break during the regular season.
Very Obviously, LeBron James Sucking
The most glaring stat line from Game 1 was that of The King’s. LeBron James scored 15 points on 5-of-16 field goals including going 0 for 5 from 3-point land as I said above. LeBron also had 7 turnovers in what was easily his worst game of this postseason.
That terrible game brought his playoff averages to a lowly 32.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 9.0 APG. Man, he sucks. If you do want to dwell on this game though, then let’s take a look at the last time LeBron scored less than 20 points in a playoff game. That time actually came against, wouldn’t you know it, the Boston Celtics. It was last year during Game 3 of their previous ECF series. LeBron scored only 11 points, went 4-of-13 from the field, 0-of-4 from three, and had 6 turnovers. The Celtics only won this game in Boston by 3 points, and trimmed their series deficit to 2-1 in the Cavs favor.
What happened in the next game in front of the loud Boston crowd? LeBron scored 34 points on 15-of-27 shooting as the Cavs took a 3-1 lead in the series before closing it out in the next game. The point is, just when you think you’ve found a “LeBron stopper” in Marcus Morris, the god amongst men reminds you that 95% of the time he can’t be stopped.
Warriors and Rockets
So to be fair, I started this blog before the Warriors and Rockets game with the assumption that there would be some unexpected things in the game that probably wouldn’t happen again in the series. Not many of those things happened, but I’ll go fishing a little bit.
Stephen Curry Makes Only One Three
The Warriors may have won by 13 points, but it wasn’t thanks to lights out shooting from Steph Curry.
The point guard who is in pursuit of his third ring, shot 1-of-5 from three in Monday night’s game, while only scoring 18 points. In his four games against the Pelicans, he never made less than 2 threes in a game. During the 2017 playoffs, Curry only made less than 2 threes in one game. That game was a 12 point win against the Utah Jazz in a 29-minute Game 1 performance for Curry (Warriors would go on to sweep).
At one point during TNT’s broadcast, Steve Kerr was preaching to Curry that if he kept doing what he’s been doing the past few years, that “the floodgates will open”. The floodgates never opened on Monday, but I’m sure they will at some point in this series. The Rockets better figure some stuff out before that happens.
So other than Draymond Green kind of taking himself out of the first half due to him being a psycho and Curry not shooting to the standard we expect from him, things went according to plan for both teams. Kevin Durant and James Harden both went off. Klay Thompson and Chris Paul missed some shots, but still had 20+ point games. Clint Capela got his easy baskets from the Harden/Paul iso ball. Both teams shot above 35% from three.
That’s why I’d be very concerned if I was the Rockets right now.
Even with Curry’s shooting struggles, Draymond being Draymond, and the Rockets’ stars playing well, the Rockets still lost by 13 points. I truly don’t know what they’re going to do for the rest of the series to come back. They just have to hope that Draymond keeps being dumbass Draymond and that two-thirds of Durant/Curry/Thompson have bad games. Other than that, they just don’t have the firepower to keep up.
Cavs/Celtics also don’t have the firepower.
I’ll just end this blog by saying…Warriors are going to win the Finals again.