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NBA Finals Diary- Exorcism Time!!

As I see it, this is going to go one of two ways tonight as the Cavaliers and Warriors get together for Game 3 in Cleveland.

It's going to be like a horror movie where good vanquishes evil (at least for a given night), or it's going to be like one of those true-life tragedies where you just keep hoping the outcome is different despite knowing what really happened.


You know, like that feel-good film, "The Exorcist" where all's well that ends well, versus watching "American Sniper" and hoping it doesn't end with the hero dead at the end.


I'm hoping for the Linda Blair route.


Have you ever heard of exorcism? It's a stylized ritual in which rabbis, desperate sports fan or priests try to drive out the so-called invading spirit. It's pretty much discarded these days, except by the Catholics and Cavaliers fans who keep it in the closet as a sort of embarrassment. It has worked, in fact, although not for the reason they think, of course. It was purely the force of suggestion. The victim's belief in possession helped cause it. And just in the same way, this belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear.
- The Exorcist, 1973 (I may have added to the quote)




The Cavaliers have been possessed by basketball's version of Satan: turnovers, missed shots, horrible performances from their stars, defensive lapses and an opponent who chews a binky to the point you want to smash in his smug face with a really heavy religious artifact or your fists.

There's a part of me that just can't get past the fact that this matchup for Cleveland is a horror story in and of itself. Forget the fact that Golden State is a historically great team. Forget the record-setting regular season and the 3-1 deficit to Oklahoma City that became a 7th game win for the defending NBA champs.


They're really good. No....actually they ARE great.


And they're also as bad a matchup for the Cavaliers as one could create.


Forget trying to go big on them. You tried that last year while slogging the game down to a snail's pace and lost in six. Not to mention that every acquisition you made since then has been to get smaller and surround LeBron James with shooters. You don't even have OKC-like bigs to throw at Golden State.


The problem is Golden State isn't worried about Cleveland going big (even if they effectively could) and they're just better at small ball than the Cavaliers are.


You want to pull Kevin Love or Channing Frye out of the paint and line them up on the arc? OK. That was great when Bismack Biyombo had to defend those guys, mostly because he was incapable of doing it. But the Warriors just smile and send Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala out there to defend the shooter and keep the other guy in the paint. Their guys are simply better defenders than anyone Cleveland has seen thus far.


While Cavs fans wonder where the hell J.R. Smith and Frye are hiding, Shaun Livingston is looking like Magic Johnson while dropping mid-range jump shots over top of everyone the Cavaliers put on him and Leandro Barbosa just keeps making the right play and the big shots time and again.


They just run an army of skilled guys out there who take advantage of their mismatches against you while they out-defend you at every other position. It might be different if Tristan Thompson had an offensive game. It might be different if Kyrie Irving wasn't inclined to turn every matchup into a personal pissing contest to show his handle and scoring skills.


Which brings me to the other point: this is American Sniper, with dead heroes and all, unless Irving changes his game starting tonight. Irving can win most one-on-one matchups on the offensive end. But the Warriors are swarming him and trapping him and he's still inclined to try and win the matchup, even though it's more often one on three rather man-to-man.


You simply can't play hero ball against Golden State. They're going to eat your lunch eventually if you resort to that style, whether the would-be hero is Irving or James.  The Cavs, Irving and James first and foremost, have to figure out a different way to attack the Warriors. The coaching staff has to provide some ideas for those guys to utilize.


It's that simple.


For what it's worth, I may have been one of the few to believe the Warriors were still very much alive when they trailed OKC three games to one. And I actually believe that the Cavaliers still have a puncher's chance in this series, if for no other reason that I believe James can make the adjustments and Irving can be dragged along as well.


If you give the Cavaliers a win they become dangerous. They can feed off a win and move to Game 4 without all the pressure and media-driven bullshit that pounces on anything that's bleeding or hurt.


But be very clear: Linda Blair is on the bed and the priest is in the room. They lose this one tonight and the series is over. And given all the impending offseason drama tied up in the Big Three, that's when the real horror show would begin.



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