The NBA Finals return to Cleveland tomorrow with the Warriors comfortably harnessing 2-0 series lead. The Cavs will look to rebound and hold serve at home, but given the result of the first two contests, the chances of a Warriors repeat has transitioned from, “Will they win two in a row?” to “How many games will it take them to close out this series?” to “Just how bad are the Cavaliers?” to “Is this even worth watching anymore?” within most social circles.
The Cavaliers’ roster isn’t talented enough to compete on the same level as their Western Conference counterparts.
Aside from maybe LeBron James (I must emphasize maybe because he’s been outplayed by Andre Iguodala on both ends of the floor), the Warriors have demonstrated their vast superiority over the Cavs in every way, and at every position imaginable. That includes players, coaches, the front office, owners, ball boys, custodians, and even thirsty fans.
James & Co. may have steamrolled their way to The Finals without much resistance from the Eastern Conference, but at this point it’s hard to imagine them advancing past the rebuilding Trailblazers if they played in the west.
The Cavs’ dismal performance has also unearthed some interesting personal questions, such as:
- Is Kyrie Irving a superstar? (Skip Bayless says yes, but he’s said some pretty dumb shit over the years.)
- Is LeBron’s game limited?
- Is Tyrone Lue still suffering from the effects of Iverson stepping over him? (Is he, though? Because he’s coaching like it!)
- Did J.R. Smith suddenly forget how to shoot?
- When should we declare Kevin Love a missing person?
- Did those Uncle Drew Pepsi commercials mislead us into thinking Kyrie and Love were really about that buckets life?
- Will LeBron ever follow the Cavs Twitter account again?
Find out on the next episode of Dragon Ball Z! (I know, this is overused and incredibly corny, but I still enjoy doing it.)
One question that I legitimately have is how much blame LeBron should shoulder for this year’s Finals debacle. Barring a monumental turnaround, James’ performance will be futilely dissected by paid talking heads to exhaustion. (Prepare for an incoherent Stephen A. Smith rant daily until the start of the upcoming NFL season.)
Some will label him the Peyton Manning of basketball. Others will continue to discredit his accolades with cretinous comparisons to Michael Jordan. (Seriously, stop this shit. It doesn’t make sense.)
But aside from on-court performance, I’m more interested in observing LeBron’s role in assembling this inept (ok, they’re not that bad, are they?) roster, and possibly, the coaching staff. David Griffin may be the GM, but James’ fingerprints are evident in every facet of the Cavs organization.
From roster decisions (I still have no idea how Tristan Thompson is making $82 million over five years) to coaching moves (Blatt, I’m sorry it had to be you, G), James’ preferences are king, even if Griffin (and James) refuse to acknowledge it publicly. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team’s uniforms aren’t cleared through Bron Bron before each game. (Remember that time he tore up his sleeves mid game? Has he worn sleeved jerseys since?)
The Cavs are clearly doing everything in their power to keep their hometown superstar happy, and I don’t blame them. They’re hell bent on avoiding another 2010 catastrophe (no one wants to witness another Dan Gilbert temper tantrum and jersey burning rituals). But at what cost?
At LeBron’s behest, the Cavs have over-invested in a power forward to just rebound (Tristan Thompson), traded away a promising wing player for a power forward who only shoots and rebounds (Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love), given away assets for two inconsistent role players (draft picks for Shumpert and Smith), and fired a veteran coach in favor of a rookie. Not to mention they’ve devoted unnecessary playing to Matthew Dellavadova, the league’s dirtiest, most maladroit player. (Seriously, why the fuck is he even in the NBA? He fucking sucks. Are there some advanced statistics that I’m missing proving otherwise? Because the eye test says under no circumstance should you ever pick this dude up, even at a rec center.)
I’m sure LeBron’s return to Cleveland, for as heartfelt as it was, came with very specific stipulations and a metric-ass ton of control, especially after Dan Gilbert’s tasteless, vitriolic tirade (it was pretty terrible). And I certainly understand James’ lack of confidence in Griffin’s ability equip him with a championship caliber supporting cast (relax LeBron, no one is going to sign Shaq for the veteran’s minimum anymore).
But whatever the case, the Cavs mortgaging their entire future hasn’t resulted in another ring for King James, and it isn’t likely to. Only now, it’s probably his fault.