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Jacob Smith: A tale of two series

Jacob Smith • Jun 8, 2017 at 10:26 PM

It’s a good thing the Stanley Cup Finals is entertaining this year, because so far the NBA Finals have been a huge disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong; I love watching the Golden State Warriors’ offense as much as anyone. The fast-paced, pass-first play style is gorgeous. It’s reminiscent of Tim Duncan’s Spurs but with even more athleticism and firepower. 

Despite this, something about the Finals just seems disappointing.

This series was pitched as the Super Team vs. The Super Athlete. Last year, LeBron James single-handedly willed the Cavaliers to a win after going down three games to one. Two years ago, he managed to push the Warriors to a game 6 after losing the second and third best players on the team to injury. Surely, if anybody can stop the Golden State juggernaut it’s LeBron James with a healthy supporting cast. Alas, it appears that not even a Super Athlete can stop what now seems inevitable.

Wednesday night, Golden State took a 3-0 lead in Cleveland. Had the Cavaliers won, I would be much more hopeful. After all, they came back from a 3-1 deficit last year, so 2-1 doesn’t seem impossible. 

But three games to none?

Only three teams ever have been able to force a game seven after going down 3-0. None of them won the series.

While their regular season record this year fell short of last year’s, Golden State has yet to lose a playoff game. With just one more win, the Warriors can become the first team ever to go undefeated in the postseason. 

It’s not a huge surprise this is happening. Just last year, Golden State had the best regular season record of all time. This year, they picked up Kevin Durant, who some believe is the second best player in the league.

Durant has been the difference maker in the playoffs this year. While Stephen Curry is incredible, Durant’s performance this year has been transcendent. He’s shot at or above 50 percent in every game he has played in during the postseason except for two games against the Utah Jazz when he was returning from an injury.

He’s currently shooting 56 percent in the Finals, including an unbelievable 52 percent from the three-point line.

In 2002, Derek Fisher broke the NBA record for best three-point shooting percentage in a four-game series. He shot 66 percent on just 12 shots. Through just three games, Durant has already attempted 21.

In Wednesday night’s game, Durant hit a three-pointer with just 45 seconds left on the clock to put the Warriors up 114-113. Not only that, but he hit the shot over LeBron James. The Cavaliers couldn’t answer.

While their regular season record this year fell short of last year’s, the Warriors have yet to lose a playoff game. With only one more win, they can become the first team ever to go undefeated in the postseason.

I’ll be honest; I thought James was up to the challenge. After watching his finals performances the last two years, I thought this was going to be just another obstacle for him on his way to the hall of fame.

Let’s not gloss over the fact that he’s been phenomenal. He’s currently averaging a triple-double in the finals. That’s about as much as you can ask from a player. Which is why it’s so hard to watch the Cavaliers be totally outmatched.

Game 4 is Friday at 8 p.m. If the Cavaliers can pull out a win in their home stadium, it will put them in the same situation they found themselves in last year, down three games to one with a must-win game at Golden State on the horizon. 

I remain optimistic they can pull it off. I don’t actually care which team wins; my only wish is for a good series. There’s a good possibility Cleveland will get swept, though. Golden State has all the talent necessary to do it.

If that happens, well, at least the Stanley Cup is exciting. Go Predators. 

Jacob Smith is a summer intern for The Democrat. Email him at intern@lebanondemocrat.com.

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