“I gave it everything I had both mentally and physically, so obviously I’m drained right now, I’m ready to get home.”
–Lebron James, after Game 3 of the NBA Finals
It’s not surprising that Lebron James, the favorite son of Akron, OH/the Cleveland area, is exhausting all that he has for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. What is surprising is that his Energizer bunny-like effort has not translated to any wins in the championship series versus the stacked (under statement) Golden State Warriors.
And, for Cavs fans, the possibility of a 4-game sweep increased greatly last night. Not simply because the Warriors have a 3-0 series advantage, but because of one person:
The Golden State Warriors are playing great basketball. However, the Cleveland Cavaliers (truthfully) have a squad equipped to handle and defeat the Warriors. True story. But that’s regarding last year’s Warriors team that the Cavs defeated 4-3 for the NBA title.
If the first three games in the 2017 NBA Finals has revealed anything, it’s that Kevin Durant is the prized x-factor and the one player the Cavs have no answer for. Not only does Mr. Durant score a lot of points, block a lot of shots and generally influence Cleveland’s play in myriad ways, but he simultaneously takes pressure off of his teammates (who may be struggling) and stretches the Cavs defense far too thin for 4 quarters.
Odds are very, very high that the Golden State Warriors will win this year’s NBA championship. And Cleveland’s personnel deficit against Kevin Durant is proving to be too costly thus far in this series. Still, the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from being down 3-1 to win the series 4-3 in last year’s NBA Finals. The question is whether the Cavs can strategically figure out how to minimize Kevin Durant’s impact on the court.
Stopping Kevin Durant seems unlikely, but anything is possible. And yes, that sentiment that “anything is possible” does include a chapter in which a professional sports team in Cleveland won a league championship in the 21st century with a surreal, magic run. If a 3-1 series comeback was magical, how would a 3-0 series comeback be described?
Thanks to the 2016 NBA Finals, people in Cleveland, OH have a legitimate reason to dream such wild things. And that’s part of the underlying magic of sports: