Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Live by the 3, Die by the 3

b-ballWith 4:39 to play last night, Klay Thompson answered a LeBron James trey with a driving layup.

It knotted the game at 89.

It knotted the points for the Series at 699-699.

As the Louisville Cardinal radio announcer of my youth Ed Kallay would say, “That’s about as close as you can get it.”

At which juncture, the compelling Best of 7 that had gained in intensity, by the day, on the court and off, redlined the Stress Meter past 11.

James missed a 22 footer.

Steph Curry missed a trey.

LeBron misfired on a deuce.

Thompson couldn’t net a two from 15 feet.

Andre Igoudala blocked a James shot at the rim. Then couldn’t find the hole from beyond the arc.

With each possession, the tension became more smothering, sucking the breath out of those who paid $50 large for their courtside seats, those in the bleachers, those in the Square in Cleveland, and folks gathered to watch together on big screens everywhere.

The shut down D continued. So too, the resulting offensive woes.

Kevin Love was errant from 10 feet.

Draymond Green, having lost his 5/5 touch from early on, missed a three.

Kyrie Irving couldn’t connect on a runner.

That resulted in a Golden State runout, which looked like it would end the drought and give the Warriors a two point lead with less than 2:00 to play.

Until LeBron James made the defensive play of the game, of the series, of the season, of his career, blocking what seemed a sure Igoudala fast break layin.1

The teams remained locked at 89 apiece.

And so it went.

James missed a deuce. Curry missed a trey.

Then, finally, at :53, 3:45 of shot clock after the last tally by either of the best two teams in the world, Kyrie Irving launched and drained a threeball over the weary reach of the reigning MVP.

Dagger.

Cleveland 92, Golden State 89. The Cavs got another digit, a James charity toss. The Dubs, four points short of immortality, were done for ’15-’16, never scoring again.

 * * * * *

The City by the Lake has its first pro sports championship since Lorenzo Carter built his cabin on the banks of the Cuyahoga River and hung his Jim Brown autographed jersey on one of its log walls. The denizens of this proud burg are faced with real conundrum from now until foreverafter, a debate that shall gleefully rage on continually.

What was the biggest play of the game?

The block by home boy LeBron James? The trey by adopted Kyrie Irving?

There is no right answer.

But there is this. Golden State, out of magic, having sweated away all the fairy dust, had no answer either.

 * * * * *

For whatever ersatz reasons it needed to be confirmed, LeBron James’ legacy is now safe and secure.

He is easily in the argument for Best Ever.

He has done what oh so very many of us have fantasized about in various forms of endeavors. Won it for his homies. Honor among his brothers and sisters.

I wanted Golden State to win. Yet I was glad for the Cavs, glad for Cleveland and touched by James’ seriously emotional reaction to the victory.

 * * * * *

A few words about Steph Curry, who had to wear the burden imposed by scribes as myself, who were wont to mistakenly proclaim him basketball’s best these days. Which he never was.

Most dazzling. Most entertaining. Most dumbfounding, when nailing those rocket shot treys. Yes to all.

But LeBron, an amazing physical specimen, with transcendent talents, is the best. As he always has been since his entry into the League, our doubts and naysaying notwithstanding.

Curry did not git ‘er done in the Finals. But you shall not hear me say he “choked.”

He certainly was weary, tired and battered from being pinballed by defenses throughout the loosely called playoffs that never allowed him free passage without the ball. To me, it was most noticeable when he dribbled, too often simply losing the handle. Then there were those inexplicable bad and lazy passes. Which, one guy’s opinion were the result of serious fatigue.

Of course, he wasn’t the only tired player, the only one who had been pushed around. But he was every foe’s target and bore the brunt of relentless and ever present physical resistance.

  * * * * *

In the end, Cleveland won for one simple reason.

LeBron James wasn’t going to allow his team to lose. He imposed that spirit force on his mates.

 * * * * *

Other than a famous Celtics vs. Hawks Eastern Conference playoff game from sometime in the 80s, a game when Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins went you take this you take that mano an mano for the entirety, last night’s Cavalier W over the Warriors was the best pro game I’ve seen.

— Seedy K

7 thoughts on “Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Live by the 3, Die by the 3

  1. Best pro game?

    Have you forgotten Micheal J’s game when he was so sick he almost passed out yet scored what seemed like 80 and made every big shot imaginable?

    Reggie’s daggers against the Knicks, throat slashing Spike Lee throughout?

    Bird’s steal to seal another Celtic win with Johnny Most’s legendary call?

    Even The King’s playoff game early in is career against the Celtics when he scored like 40 some-odd points in a row for the Cav’s?

    Willis Reed limping his way into the Hall of Fame?

    Yes, last night’s game had plenty of drama, but it was far from the “best” pro game you have ever seen. Hell, even some of the Thunder-Dub’s games in this years playoffs were “better” than last night’s game. Both teams were spent and the first team to score to break the 89-89 tie was going to win. Too bad Iggy didn’t dunk it…….

  2. One of the best pro games. LeBron James ended the 2016 NBA Finals with 208 points, 79 rebounds and 62 assists. James became the third player to have a triple-double in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and his 29.7 points per game now stands as the highest scoring average by a player on the winning team in the Finals since 2010, when Kobe Bryant scored 28.6 points per game against the Celtics. All good enough to earn James his third Finals MVP award (and fulfilling his promise of bringing Cleveland its first major professional sports champion since 1964.) James is now 4-2 all-time in Game 7s, including 2-0 in those must-win games during the NBA Finals.

    Last night wasn’t the most well-played game, but it was what you’d expect from a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It was hard-fought yet imperfect, a competition and not a beauty pageant. In recent history, when the Finals end with a for-it-all final showdown, the games are more battles of endurance than thrilling, free-flowing basketball. This one followed that pattern, appropriately.

    After six games decided by double-digit margins, after a series of seesawing control, it was fitting that this game was not a classic as much as it was two wobbly teams continuing to punish each other and doing everything it could to stay on its feet. Neither team led by more than eight. There were 11 ties and 20 lead changes.

    It was very nice to see The Golden Boy choke in the last several games of the Finals. All hubris, no poise. It was over for Steph-y when the only thing he could hit in game 6, was a fan with his mouthpiece. Draymond “The Sterilizer” Green was the only Warrior starter, maybe player, to come out of the locker room to congratulate LeBron. A team that may grow up one day, drop the hubris and poseur patter. Nice to see the GSW lose. 73-9 don’t mean a thing, if you don’t win the ring.

    1. “Petty”? “Total BS”? Hmmm. You yourself bemoaned their hubris at one point.

      “BS”? Stephen Curry tossing his mouthpiece at a fan and Ayesha Curry tossing conspiracy theories at the NBA. The Curry’s behavior is bullshit.

      But let us not forget that the turning point in the 2016 NBA Finals did not involve any of these things. It was not sentimental or beautiful, and it had nothing to do with a ball going through a hoop. No, the turning point of the NBA Finals involved one grown man hitting another grown man in the balls.

      Laugh all you want. As childish and giggle-inducing as it might be, this is the reality of the situation we now find ourselves in: Draymond Green’s decision to hit James in the balls with under three minutes to go in Game 4 changed the course of the NBA Finals more than any other single moment, allowing the Cavs just the smallest bit of breathing room, which they then capitalized on.

      From there, everything spiraled out of control for the Warriors. No poise. In fact, after the flick, the Warriors would only play one more half with their entire core in tact. The league suspended Green for Game 5 as a result of the incident, allowing the Cavs just the smallest bit of breathing room with the league’s best defender off the floor.

  3. I agree the turning point in the series was Green’s well deserved suspension. I don’t think GS displayed hubris in the Finals. I believe, even up 3-1, they knew they had to finish. And didn’t. Because of his physical stature, Curry was worn down, after being pinballed every move he made without the ball throughout the playoffs. Yes, he made some really stupid passes. And, he was on the floor after the game. Not sure if he congratulated LeBron, but I saw him hugging Kyrie.

    1. And when you cost your team a shot at the crown because you’re playing dirty, that’s not poise. That’s just stupid.

  4. I’m not a pro basketball fan but I watched the last two games in their entirety – my dad’s family is from Ohio and I know lots of long-suffering Cleveland fans. Only NBA I’ve watched all year.

    I think James’s block is the best defensive play in NBA history….maybe in the history of basketball…given the circumstances – tie game, under two minutes, Game Seven. Bird’s steal was awesome but that was Game Five of Eastern Conference finals. I don’t remember hearing about Prince’s block and, again, that was in a conference finals. James Worthy’s “steal” in the waning moments of the 1982 NCAA championship game was huge, obviously, but he didn’t make a great play. Brown (who was right in front of me in the SuperDome) gave him a gift.

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