2015 NBA Finals.
The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers met in LeBron James’ first year back in Cleveland. The Warriors had taken their game to another level after losing in the first round of the 2014 playoffs and the Splash Brothers were officially the best shooting backcourt of all-time (Mark Jackson stated this in 2013, and people thought he was crazy). Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were hurt for the series, so the Cavs stood no chance. Everyone felt that both of these teams would likely be back, so we got ready for Cavs-Warriors II.
2016 NBA Finals.
No one had ever come back in the NBA Finals when down 3-1. Enough said.
2017 NBA Finals.
Kevin Durant joins the team that broke the regular season win record.
The dude is arguably the best basketball player on the planet aside from LeBron James. Everyone was PISSED. I, myself, wasn’t that mad at the time, as the Warriors’ offense was probably the most exciting offense I had seen my whole life and I was ready to watch Durant added to it (It’s now starting to get annoying).
They didn’t break their own regular season record with him added, but they met with the Cavs again and this time the Warriors beat a fully loaded Cavs squad 4-1.
The offseason comes around and Kyrie Irving decides “Eh, actually I hate LeBron”. He gets traded to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and some parts. The Cavs then trade IT and those parts midseason for some misfit toys named George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. The Warriors haven’t changed at all, but Steph Curry’s ankle problems came back along with some knee issues, while Durant, Draymond, and Iguodala all also missed some games.*
*That’s the only adversity I could find for the Warriors this year. For the Cavs I didn’t even mention Kevin Love’s mental health reveal, Tyronn Lue’s health problems, or Tristan Thompson’s infidelities with Khloe Kardashian. The Cavs have been an absolute shit storm compared to any team in this league, let alone the Warriors.
All of that brings us to the 2018 NBA Finals. Part 4. To say this was expected would be the understatement of a lifetime. Everyone knew this coming. To be honest, I think everyone still saw it coming when both teams were down 3-2 in their respective conference finals series.
That sense of knowing what is going to happen can be…well…boring. I’m one of the bigger NBA stans, but I have nothing to say in arguing that these 2018 NBA Finals are going to be exciting. I’m starting to hear some of the murmurs throughout different podcasts and media members that it sure would be miraculous and spectacular if LeBron James took over and beat these Warriors.
I just want to say it right now. It’s not smart to bet against LeBron, but BET EVERYTHING AGAINST LEBRON. This year is just different.
The Warriors haven’t even looked amazing throughout the regular season or the playoffs. They’ve used their superpowers when needed to keep advancing, but they haven’t dominated. That still gives me no doubt on the idea of them pummeling the Cavs. Want to name the top 5 players in this series? It doesn’t matter what order you put them, 4 of them are on the Warriors. No one on the Cavs other than LeBron is better than Curry, Durant, Thompson, or Draymond. You can’t beat those odds. It was possible when the Cavs had Kyrie Irving and semi-competent role players. Now they don’t have that dynamic isolation scorer in Kyrie while players like J.R. Smith and George Hill are sucking.
Ever since that legendary 2016 NBA Finals, these two teams have slowly gone in opposite directions in regards to talent. You would think that this would at least cause the Cavs to not make the Finals, but if you were thinking that then you forgot LeBron James exists. He can impose his will on essentially any team in the NBA other than the Warriors (and maybe the Rockets, but we may never know).
It’s been a impressive three-to-four year shift from one of the most exciting team matchups in sports to the most monotonous matchup in sports. It’s actually hard to believe given the Lakers and Celtics overlapping successes in the past amongst other sports dynasties, but this is the first time in American sports that the same two teams have met in the championship four years in a row. That is BORING. What is even more boring is when the fourth matchup in a row has such a huge disparity in talent. The fact that the Cavs could tie the Warriors in total championships along the four years should give us a little excitement. But everyone knows what the outcome will be.
Things may change next year. But it won’t be because of the Warriors getting worse or the Cavs getting better. LeBron might be moving on to his third team in 5 years, which would cause a shift in power in the NBA no matter where he went. If he goes to the West to say the Lakers or the Rockets, the Warriors’ streak of making the Finals may be in jeopardy. On the flip side, if LeBron stays in Cleveland, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are rising, while the Cavs have little to no cap space to go out and make substantial moves in free agency. This could easily lead to the end of the King’s reign in the East.
For now though, we must stomach these NBA Finals. Let’s just hope that LeBron averages 50/15/15 to at least make this interesting.