NBA Finals Diary- Game 1

Hey... if that leg flailing, nut-cracking toolbox from Golden State can have a playoff diary on, why shouldn't I have the same opportunity on a similar stage? The worldwide leader chose Draymond Green to carry the mail. I chose EHC to deliver mine.

Advantage: Cavs fans and EHC readers. Clearly.

Anyway, I figure this NBA Finals thing is a good enough reason to make my return to these hallowed pages, and I know for sure that if I don't write some of this shit down, that the nerves and emotions will rip me apart like something out of a Karin Slaughter book.

So, in short, given that this is old hat and the second straight Finals for the Cavaliers I feel both extremely confident and scared shitless at the same time.

There you have it. It's all I've got, really.

I'm extremely confident mostly because LeBron James enters this series as healthy and as rested as he's ever entered an NBA Final series. His friends, namely Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, are also healthy, and that wasn't the case last year. That fact is what's getting all the run and publicity, and it's hugely important. But it's really only important because James himself is in the right shape to take advantage of it.

We've known for years what a freak James is physically. We as Cavs fans are also quite aware of his status as Student of the Game and how no one in the NBA prepares themselves mentally and physically for a season that he expects to last a minimum of 100 games.

James took that to another level this season. Everything he's done on and off the court have gone toward ensuring he and his team are at their very best and peaking for this next two weeks. The odd tweets and the crazy diets and the days off that included training sessions with Heat buddy Dwyane Wade were all James's measure methods of getting to where we are today. I'm extremely confident that LeBron James has as much gas in the tank as it will take to finish this series. He's rested, he's fresh, he's engaged and he's got a huge freakin' chip on his shoulder, whether he'll admit that or not.

The importance of that can't be overstated: LeBron James is, in all likelihood, the most motivated AND the healthiest player on the floor for the NBA Finals. I'll take my chances on that in any series, any time, against any team.

I'm scared shitless because the Cavs opponent is not just any team. In this day and age, with physicality dead and buried, the Golden State Warriors have revolutionized the NBA. No one plays the game backward as well as the Warriors do. Never before in NBA history had teams looked to be further away from the basket when doing the bulk of their scoring. But that's the Warriors way. And no one has been able to combat that way in the past two seasons.

They're terrifying to play against or to cheer against. Most teams that get down stay down, for the most part. But the Warriors have almost a sliding scale of deficits and time that you need to reference in order to feel safe against them.

If the you lead the Warriors by four then you can only feel good if the game is over.

If you lead the Warriors by 12-15 you can only feel secure if there's two minutes or less to play.

If you lead the Warriors by 20+ you're still feeling queasy if there are any more than 8 minutes remaining in the game.
This is a team that you can play your best basketball against for 45 minutes, lead by double digits and then watch them mercilessly rip your throat out in three possessions. This is a Warriors team that uses a turnover or two from you to turn an 8-point deficit in the final minutes into an 8-point margin of victory while you get whiplash wondering what the hell just hit you.

They're scary.

But I'm supremely confident that the Cavs won't worry so much about stops as they will about makes.

I don't think James prepared for this final track meet in order to run the mile. I think he and Tyronn Lue, as well as Irving, Love and the rest of the Cavaliers, have their sights on a record relay run in this series. There will be no Mozgov and Delly out there funking up the game and the pace. There won't be LeBron running 20 seconds off every shot clock before desperately driving into the teeth of the Warriors defense and willing his team to a couple Finals victories.


This series will shatter the Finals record for three pointers attempted per game, and probably for the entire series, regardless how many games it goes. That's what Golden State does, and that's what James, Lue and the Cavaliers have been preparing to do ever since Lue replaced David Blatt halfway through the season.

The Cavs had no purpose and no process under Blatt. Lue provided one. He provided a vision of what he wanted to build and a hierarchy of which players would drive the heavy equipment, while Blatt seemed content to show up at the job site every day and let guys decide what they wanted to work on that night.

They have a purpose and they have a vision. They have a healthy and motivated all-time great on their side. They have his healthy buddies that he can rely on and who can shoot the lights out on many nights.

They have way, way more than they had this time last season. That makes me extremely confident that they can win this series.

But I'm scared shitless that all of that still may not be enough.
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