Wudder Sports 2017 NBA Finals "Third Time's a Charm or Three Strikes You're Out?" Prince Born Day Edition
Before we get into what’s been a fairly non-compelling first two NBA Finals games, we just wanted to take a moment to send a shout out to The GOAT, Prince Rogers Nelson, on what would have been his 59th Birthday today.
The above .GIF in the header photo was taken from his most ambitious and expensive tour ever, the Lovesexy Tour of 1988, through Europe and Asia.
There was a basketball half-court built onstage and P would generally end up taking a shot or two at the basket in between jumping from stage tiers into full splits, hopping out of a sports car to engage in libidinous dance with Cat or Sheila E, or levitating in a piano while working the crowd into a gospel call-and-response.
They usually went in, because, well, he’s Prince.
Speaking of GOATs, the basketball version, LeBron James-yeah, I said it-seems to instead be playing with a herd of goats, standing around staring at him.
Not much to say about Game 3, or the series so far, that we haven’t already said in our first or second Finals pieces.
The Cavs are in a must-win situation, while outside of Kevin Love nobody came to play last game besides LeBron. The cliché is that the role players step up when playing at home. That would be nice if the Cavs are going to have any shot of creeping back in it.
Meanwhile, nobody outside of Love has played even close to their seasonal or playoff averages, let alone play above those numbers, as they'll need to do in order to beat a juggernaut Warrior team now led by Kevin Durant.
Speaking of Durant, he’s the reason this whole thing feels so deflating, with a Golden State title looking like a fait accompli for 2017.
Sure, you can try to point to the fact that Cleveland was down 2-0, losing in Oakland in the opening two games by an even wider margin last year, then blowing a 3-1 lead.
It took a Herculean effort for the Cavs to pull off the upset, on the road in Game 7, over last year’s record-setting 73-win Dubs team.
So, take that modest gap, then swap out Harrison Barnes’ 9/4/1 on 35% shooting in 31 minutes again, for…. what Kevin Durant is doing.
As Paulie in Goodfellas says, “It’s Not Even Fair, No?”.
No. And Durant is in full “Fuck You, Pay Me” mode.
But everybody jumping on the bandwagon to now make this a leapfrogging “league’s best player” moment, with no regard to respective cast or context, slow your roll. The only player Durant has leapfrogged was Steph on his own team’s pecking order and importance. And that’s only if you were ever foolish enough to believe the Adorable MVP was ever better than Mr. “You Da Real MVP”.
LeBron James remains the best player in the game. But man, he’d do well to put up a 40+/12+/10+ type of game tonight. He’s gonna need Kyrie to ball out. And they’re gonna need to start moving the ball better, while getting some of these invisible men to knock down threes.
Despite what we’ve seen, we’re still at least a little bit excited for Game 3.
And Wudder Sports is not ready for the dog days of our sports summer to begin after Friday night. So do us all a favor, Cleveland Cavaliers and win tonight.
We’ll be back in this post later with Live Journal in-and-post-game updates.
Nostrabombus Game 3 Prediction: CAVS (+3.5) over Warriors
BONUS Game 3 Municipal Musical Matchup:
One of Akron’s finest, Chrissie Hynde & The Pretenders
The official horn section of The Town, Tower of Power
Winner: Hey, Oh, Way to Go, Ohio
Happy Prince Day, Everybody! RIP Charlie Murphy...
Respond/React Live In-Game Journal
National Anthem: Rascal Flats…never got their appeal, this didn’t change that.
-Cleveland trapping the pick-and-roll from the jump, Kyrie takes Curry right to the basket, JR SMITH HITS A SHOT! These are three positives in the opening minute. Nullified almost instantly by a pair of threes by Klay Thompson & Durant.
-LeBron just got blindsided by Tristan Kardashian with a shoulder to his jaw. He’s on the ground woozy. Easily the biggest impact play Tristan has made so far in these Finals.
-Klay has 16 points with five minutes left in the opening quarter. Iggy just actually hit a three. Golden State 7-of-9 from behind the arc.
-Dear Tristan Thompson, how do you have position and then end up watching LeBron have to wrestle on the floor with Javale McGee for the rebound? Khloe might be a succubus.
-BRON just hit a three, picked McGee’s pocket in the post, then went coast-to-coast dunking on Durant and a trailing Javale. ABC decides “Tubthumping” by Chubawumba best describes that moment heading to commercial. Let's see if the Cavs keep pissing his night away.
-LeBron goes to the bench with a lead with about a minute left, Cavs implode. Kyrie seems to have no sense of how to actually run an offense. Cavs down 8, 39-31. Just like that, Cleveland is in the danger zone/elimination zone. Cavs have trailed after the first 9 quarters of this series.
-LeBron throws a lob to Love that somehow accidentally goes in the basket, Love gets fouled too. One of the weirded three-point sequences you will see.
-KYLE KORVER JUST YAMMED ON ‘EM! I’m not sure I’ve seen Korver dunk before. And I watched most of his games in the first five years of his career. He barely got it over the rim with two hands. He’s 6’7”.
-“Deron Williams Shake-n-Bake” says Mike Breen, as Deron misses his eleventh straight field goal attempt to start this series. More like Deron Williams Steak-n-Shake.
-LeBron just went baseline on Durant after a no-call foul, then reverse layup after going under the basket while still having his back to the basket.
-Cleveland has taken three stupid fouls on Curry at half court already: JR in the first, then Kyrie & Shump back to back, putting them in the penalty with four left.
-Draymond going Draymond Green. The Cavs again thank him. Why is Richard Jefferson playing? And as I type it, he fouls Durant on a jumper.
-Kyrie hits a buzzer beater off a coast-to-coast drive after Patchouli Oil committed a foul setting a screen that had Steph screaming on him. That almost makes up for Kyrie turning the ball over, resulting in a Steph transition three and leaving Klay open for three in the two possessions before that. But not really. Down 6 at half. Golden State has 12 threes at the break, new NBA record.
-Kyrie still can’t get his three-stroke together but he’s getting some more points on drives. He also made the outlet pass that set up Bron drawing a fourth foul on Draymond. Cavs have a little life. A lead for the first time since Bron sat in the first quarter would be nice. And they get it on a KEVIN LOVE THREE off a LeBron pass. 71-69 Cavs.
-6:25: Curry just dribbled above his ear coming down the court after a missed Bron three, then pulls up from 30 feet with a hand in his face for his fifth three.
-5:54 Tristan can’t even win jumps against Draymond Green, leading to Love taking a foul on McGee under the basket.
-5:36 Tristan can’t even pass to an open Kevin Love for a corner three and instead gets blocked trying to go one on two, leading to Kyrie taking a foul on Green diving for the ball.
-3:43 More Golden State points off long rebounds. They’re ten rebounds up on the Cavs tonight.
-LeBron dunk, Kyrie back-to-back crazy layups, CAVS UP SEVEN!
-5.9 seconds: Not one of JR’s fouls tonight have made any sense, but his fourth was the absolute worst. Taking a foul on a rookie (McCaw) already past you with 3 ticks on the shot clock and less than six left in the quarter, up seven. Horrible.
-Nevertheless, CLEVELAND has its first lead after 11 quarters, 94-89.
-10:16: fifth foul on Draymond Green. He’s been awful all night.
-7:49: Durant’s first field goal of the second half. How is that possible?
-Curry on LeBron twice in a row on switches, results: YES, PLEASE.
-5:29: Kyrie in finishing-no-matter-what-mode on these drives. Cavs up six.
-4:25: LBJ has 39, 8 & 8. Gonna need 46/10/10 to win.
-Two more boards and what should have been two more assists from Bron, first on a beautiful pass to JR in the corner, later Love can’t convert under the basket.
-For the first time in about a quarter and a half, Kyrie’s finishing attempt doesn’t fall, rolls around the rim and off, then he goes and gets it on the floor. Crowd is going crazy. Up four. Looking like the Cavs might pull this one out.
-Durant scores with 1:15 left. That was too easy. Timeout TLue.
-Korver misses at least his third straight open three. Durant hits a three. Warriors take their first lead at 45 second mark.
-Jeff Van Gundy points out Cleveland should get a two-for-one. Unfortunately, Kyrie doesn’t here him. Takes a terrible step back three after dribbling down the shot clock. They have to foul, Love doesn’t foul Draymond, Korver has to foul Durant, who’s automatic. 116-113 with 12.9 remaining. That sequence will end up being the all-but official, ignominious end of this series.
-Cavs: 12-for-43 from three. 11-0 run in the final 3:10 for Golden State. KD finally getting a ring, probably by Friday night.
-Cavs were +7 in the 45 minutes LeBron was on the court. Cavs were -12 in the 3 minutes he wasn't. Yet we'll still hear all the hot takes, along the lines of "Michael Jordan wouldn't have passed to the guy who's #5 in three-pointers made all-time, Korver, wide open in the corner", as if Kerr & Paxson didn't happen. Whateva Man.
Nostrabombus Finals Prediction Record: 2-1 (Golden State added to the gut punch with a backdoor cover via Curry at the line in the final seconds).
Congrats to the Warriors on the pending chip, Wudder Sports will be back with a Game Four Prediction and Post-Mortem, but no Live Journal, since for at least the first half, I'll be at the Ocean City Music Pier covering the Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue show, on the opening night of the annual summer concert series for my gig with OCNJ Daily.