One of our really good teams at Claremont had a 5'10" point guard from the Bay Area named Brian Beasley. As you would expect, Brian was feisty, gritty and all the words that describe 5'10" point guards. Somewhat like the words that describe NBA back-up point guards from Australia by way of St. Mary's - also in the Bay Area.
Brian and I had a deal. In the first five minutes of every game, he would dive on the floor for a loose ball. We called it "setting the tone." The larger players on the team (all of them) would see Brian diving on the floor for the ball, and the aggressiveness was contagious. That was the theory anyway. Our All-American and All-Conference players were not as likely to hit the floor. They didn't need too, perhaps, since instead of hitting the floor they were instead hitting their jumpers.
In Game Three of the Finals, the non-all stars on the Cavs "set the tone." Aging ex-shooter Mike Miller - dove flat out for a loose ball. Aging shooter James Jones - dove flat out for a loose ball. Iman Shumpert got crushed on a pick, looked like he separated a shoulder and was done for the season - and came back from the locker room to make an immediate 3 pointer and play 31 minutes. Aussie back-up point guard (now starter) Matthew Dellavedova - hit the floor numerous times. Also dove into the stands, scored a career high 20, and wound up in the hospital with exhaustion and dehydration. This picture is before he was carted off on a stretcher:
I continue to want the Warriors to win, for all the reasons laid out here: however, the ex-coach in me can't help but think back to Brian Beasley when I watch the Cavs compete. When I see Delly having the time of his life, I see a little bit of my former point guard from the Bay Area competing in the NBA Finals. Emphasis on the word "competing".
1. Diving on the floor is a very effective method of getting to the ball. It also reflects desire, hustle and caring. These are all very good things. However, diving on the floor for a loose ball is not inherently dangerous. It is much more dangerous to jump for a rebound - you might land on someone's foot when you come down. Another thing (among many) that make me crazy about Mark Jackson: He refers to diving on the floor as "sacrificing your body". Not as bad as "Momma, there goes that man" and "Hand down, man down", but still -- Try taking a charge on Lebron. That would be "sacrificing your body". Of course, that sacrifice would be wasted since they never call an offensive foul on Lebron.
Even worse, Jackson announced in the fourth quarter of Game Three that the Cavs were running the same offense they ran the previous game. Wrong again Mark. Tuesday night, the ball moved around the floor to various Cavs' players. Sunday night, it stayed with one player for virtually the entire shot clock. The only reason - the ONLY reason - I want the season to end is so I don't have to listen to Mark Jackson for the rest of the summer.
2. When Mike Miller checked into the game last night (looking somewhat surprised that the coach remembered his name), he pulled off his shooting shirt. I don't know if anyone else noticed - it was a Lebron James shooting shirt. (Maybe he wore the shirt to confuse the coach.)
3. The Warriors have now played 12 quarters. In only 2 of those quarters (once in Game Two, 4th quarter last night) did they match or exceed their season average of 27 points per quarter. Steve Kerr must be getting tired of saying things like: "OK boys, we are playing like crap, but we are only down X points". Of course, now he is saying: "OK boys, we are playing like crap, but we are only down one game."
4. As bad as Curry was in Game Three for the first three quarters, Barnes and Green were bad for all four quarters. They combined to shoot 2 for 18 from the floor, and had a grand total of 7 points between them (barely more than their combined 6 fouls). And while I predicted before the Series that they would both do a good job on Lebron when it was their turn (along with Klay Thompson), it turns out that the Warriors best defender on Lebron, by far, had been Andre Iguodala. Tuesday night, he also outplayed Barnes and Green on offense - though that is a pretty low baseline. In fact, if you had to choose a Warrior MVP thus far, it would be Iguodala. (The Cavs' MVP would be some guy named Lebron James.)
5. All advanced studies show that there is no such thing as a hot hand. Tell that to Steph Curry - who went from ice-cold to scorching hot like someone turned on a flame-thrower. Tell that to the Cavs - who went from making threes or dunks on every possession in the third quarter to freezing totally in the first 9 minutes of the fourth like someone prematurely spilled frozen Gatorade on them.
6. In Game Two, both teams went small for long periods. Tuesday night, the Cavs went big whenever Delly was on the bench. At times, Lebron was the point, Mozgov and Thompson were inside, along with two big wings (6'5''Shumpert, 6'8'' Jones, or 6"8'' Miller). That, my friends, is a big team.
7. Game Three was the Cavs' first home court win in the NBA Finals. Ever. As in "never before". Of course, Game Two was their first road win in the NBA Finals ever. Congratulations to Cleveland.
8. Curry's awakening in the fourth quarter, and the big comeback, should give the Warriors some confidence going into Game Four. Hopefully, Barnes and Green will awaken too. If not, we may be looking at a short series. Which would mean Cleveland's first championship in any sport since 1964. On that subject, it was great to see Lebron acknowledge Cleveland Brown great Jim Brown before the opening tip. Without Brown, the championship drought would be even longer.
9. Somewhat surprisingly, the Warriors are favored by 3 tonight. How would you bet?