A few weeks ago, in wide-eyed awe of the Golden State Warriors, on the heels of the best regular season record ever, we were asking the very relevant question (at the time) – whether anyone is equipped to stop the Dubs juggernaut.
Oh boy, has the narrative changed since then. A Steph Curry sprained MCL and two Cleveland Cavaliers playoff series sweeps later, we are very much looking at the Cavs as the team to beat. LeBron & Co. have made quick work of Detroit and Atlanta, eight wins against zero losses, setting records along the way for most threes in a game and in a series. Meanwhile the Warriors have already dropped two games, need a win tonight to avoid serious complications against a pesky Portland team, which has proved a matchup nightmare so far. As the Warriors await the return of their superstar MVP, it is becoming obvious that a Curry-less Golden State team should not be the bookmakers favorite to win the title. On the other side of the Westeroos bracket, the San Antonio Spurs and OKC Thunder are entrenched in a bloodbath, by far the most interesting series in either conference semifinal. Either one of those teams should really be able to pose real issues to the Warriors quest to maintain the NBA supremacy.
The same cannot be said of either Miami or Toronto. With plenty of rest ahead of the Eastern Conference finals, it is safe to say that none of the Cavs are trembling in their Nikes ahead of their next series.
After a lackluster and predictable first round of playoffs, this is a much needed increase in playing level, intensity and dramatic element. Here’s to a speedy recovery for Steph’s knee. The last thing we want is more playoff basketball without the league’s marquee player and MVP, especially when it looks like Tyron’s boys are clicking on all the cylinders and maxing their potential at the right time, all without even riding LeBron’s shoulders all that much. Would be a damn shame to have some sort of asterisk next to a Cleveland championship (a Cleveland what???).
Although I’m sure that the trophy-starved fan base on the shores of Lake Erie will take it in whatever way it comes.