THE FINALS ARE HERE! THE FINALS ARE HERE! THE FINALS ARE HERE! Are you fucking ready or what?
It’s been a while since I’ve dove off the deep end into some NBA coverage. But dude… IT’S THE FINALS. LEBRON VS CURRY. MVP VS MVP. Oh man, I’m ridiculously excited. I had to jump back in! In honor of the best two week stretch of the year, here are some key head to head (but not in the literal matchup-on-the-court basketball sense) battles that will decide the NBA Finals. If you possess superb attention to detail you might notice that I’ve listed the Golden State Warriors player first in every title. That’s because they’re the higher seed. It’s also because *SPOILER ALERT* I think they’re going to win the series.
Note: I got way too pumped about a Windows update and restarted my computer, losing the first draft of this column in the process. So if you find this article lacking, just imagine how good that article was and you’ll feel really satisfied with your reading decision regardless.
1.) 1st Year Coach With A One-Syllable Last Name: Steve Kerr vs. David Blatt
This off-season, Kerr had a really, really difficult decision to make. He had been offered two jobs: coaching a team that had the potential to be the worst team in basketball (the New York Knicks) or coaching a team that had the potential to be the best team in basketball (the Golden State Warriors). After many days of debating, Kerr decided to take the Golden State job. That doesn’t seem like it would be the type of decision that would take most people more than six minutes, so that’s definitely a blemish on Kerr’s résumé. Meanwhile, David Blatt had signed up to coach the then shitty Cleveland Cavaliers, when a meteor named LeBron crashed into his backyard, giving him a superhero to play with. Lucky dude.
Kerr promptly went 33-6 over his first 39 games. Blatt went 19-20. Aren’t arbitrary end points fun? They ended the season at 66-15 and 53-29 respectively. Technically that means Kerr got worse at his job while Blatt got better. STATS. But also Golden State was one of the best regular season teams in NBA history, while Blatt spent the entire season with LeBron’s fist up his rectum, working him like the shallow skin puppet he really is:
So… yeah. That.
Kerr has had a masterful season coaching, convincing former All-Stars to take bench roles (Andre Iguodala and David Lee), elevating lesser role players to invaluable contributors (Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes), and molding his star into the league MVP (Stephen Curry). David Blatt can’t even get his players to run his plays.
If we’re just going off the phonetic pronunciation of each of their names, it’s obvious Kerr is the better coach. Say “Kerr” out loud. It’s throaty. It’s a growl. It’s got a carnal edge to it. Now say “Blatt”. Total wet fart. Which name instills more confidence when you hear it? Yeah, thought so. Okay, you need more non-proof on Kerr’s dominance? Well, despite having one fewer letter, “Kerr” is actually worth one more Scrabble point than “Blatt” is (8 to 7). That’s got to mean something, right?
2.) Injured Second Banana With A First Name That Starts With The Letter K: Klay Thompson vs. Kryie Irving
So this one is interesting because both guys are Robin in their Batman/Robin relationships to their team’s superstar, yet both guys can light it the fuck up. They’re also both nursing injuries. Klay has been fighting concussion symptoms and you definitely need your head to be working to play basketball. Kyrie has been fighting a leg injury and you definitely also need your legs to be working to play basketball. So both guys are hoping to have all of their parts working by game time.
I can’t really say definitively which one of these guys is better. But I can say that Kyrie has the awesome Uncle Drew Pepsi commercials, while Klay only has a commercial for Adobe Cloud. Adobe Cloud is a really nerdy thing to endorse. That’s definitely a point in Kyrie’s favor.
One time Kyrie got really hot and exploded into a supernova, winning the All-Star Game MVP with 31 points:
BUT one time Klay split a bunch of atoms and detonated into a cloud of nuclear radiation to the tune of 37 points in one quarter. HE SCORED THIRTY SEVEN IN ONE QUARTER. THAT’S SOMETHING THAT HAD LITERALLY NEVER, EVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN HUMAN HISTORY.
Also, apparently Klay isn’t throwing up or staring at his nose in cross-eyed confusion anymore, while Kyrie is still a little gimpy. So Klay has this one.
3.) Former All-Star White Guy Who Won’t Make An Impact In This Series: David Lee vs. Kevin Love
So here’s a short story about me. I used to live in Minneapolis where I had frequent tickets to Timberwolves games during peak Kevin Love Timberwolves era. During those games, the fans would chant “MVP” at Kevin Love. This was despite the fact that during his time with the Timberwolves he never played a full season and never won more than 40 games. There are 82 games in a season. That means Kevin Love never had a winning season. Still, they chanted “MVP”. This was confusing to me. So I did not participate in those chants. But it’s a catchy thing to chant, so I would chant “MVP” at Darko Miličić instead. No one else would join in. Anyway, Kevin Love is injured and because he’s recovering from shoulder surgery, will not be playing in this series at all.
In case you forgot, David Lee once made an All-Star game. That’s an actual thing that happened. David Lee used to get POINTS. Now he gets BENCHED. I doubt we’ll see much of David Lee, maybe 2.8 minutes a game or something. But technically that’s more valuable than Kevin Love trying to clap on the sideline with one hand. But for real, he’s not going to see the court much. David Lee plays defense like he’s composed of zero particles of mass. Still, I have to give it to him on a technicality.
I don’t want to show you a video clip of either of these guys. So here’s a bunch of highlights of Draymond Green. He’s like actually super important to this series or whatever.
Winner: David Lee I guess. This was a bad category. MY BAD, YO.
4.) Foreign Frankenstein Starting Center: Andrew Bogut vs. Timofey Mozgov
Andrew Bogut is an Australian center for the Golden State Warriors. When I say his name out loud, I mispronounce it. I say BO-gurt. As in, rhymes with yogurt. This fact doesn’t help you understand him as a basketball player. But it does help you understand how I pronounce his name. Which is incorrectly.
On the other hand, Timofey Mozgov is a Russian center for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Timofey obviously spells Timothy incorrectly. That’s not something I did. That’s something his parents did. Again, this also has no bearing on his basketball ability and is pretty xenophobic on my part. But it does tell you about how his name is spelled, which is a fact of sorts.
Anyway, both guys are Frankenstein centers because they’re enormous, lumbering white dudes, with extended injury histories. Or in the case of Mozgov, death by dunking histories:
That’s not a good look. Which speaking of not looking good, let’s talk about Mozgov’s defensive game. The dude likes to get lost. During the series vs Chicago, Mozgov continually got beat by a 10,000 year old mummy named Pau Gasol. On the other side, Bogut was Second Team All-Defense this season. He’s a legit game-changing defender. He’ll make it hard for the Cavs to score at the rim.
Mozgov’s offensive scoring game might be a little more valuable than Bogut’s, but I’d still describe it as an Orcish battering ram knocking at the door of Helm’s Deep. His game is all power at the rim. He relies on others to get him his looks. Meanwhile, Bogut is actually capable of running an offense. He has ridiculous skills:
Assuming both Frankensteins have all of their parts and pieces in place, Bogut’s all-around game should make him the superior foreign monster.
Winner: Andrew Bogut
5.) MVP Born In Akron, Ohio: Steph Curry vs. LeBron James
Oh sure everybody knows that LeBron James was born in Akron, Ohio. But did you know that Steph Curry was ALSO born in Akron, Ohio? What the fuck, right? To be clear, I’m not what the fucking the fact that two NBA MVPs were born in the same Ohio city, I’m what the fucking the fact that Steph Curry was born at all. I, like you probably did, just assumed he bubbled to the surface in a can of three-point line paint one day, splattering out onto the hardwood floor with basketball in hand. I GUESS I DON’T NEED TO KEEP BIDDING ON USED PAINT CANS ON EBAY ANYMORE.
I’ve written meaningless paragraphs on both Curry and LeBron before (Siya likes to write about Curry, too), but I’ll try to make this a little more level-headed. Curry is flat-out the most ridiculous scorer I’ve ever seen. There’s not a single spot in the gym that’s outside of his range. He’s going to get his. He’s also so, so gifted at dribbling. He can move through spaces on the court so small ants would be like “Naw, dude”. And he’s selfless. That’s what makes watching both these stars so fun. They both love to set their guys up. Curry and LeBron are ideal team-based superstars. They elevate everyone. That includes you. You’re a better basketball fan because you watch these two.
But LeBron is LeBron. He’s not a human being. He’s his own species. Curry might be the MVP, but LeBron is easily the best basketball player on the planet right now. It’s not close. If you think someone else is better, you’re wrong. You just are. Let it go. LeBron is a basketball player forged by Zeus. He’s nearly impervious to physical toil. He gets to the rim whenever he feels inclined. He can guard all five positions. Again, HE CAN GUARD ALL FIVE POSITIONS. And do it well. There’s no one else on Earth with that skill set. Not even close.
Still, unless LeBron has been hitting the cloning lab, or has figured out the secrets to human mitosis, he’s not going to be enough. Sure, he can guard all five positions, but he can’t guard all five at once. Curry’s got the better supporting cast, more able to step up if his flaming hot hands should feel the unfortunate chill of winds blowing cold. LeBron doesn’t have that luxury. His team needs him to do it all. At the end of the day, if we’re talking about which player is the best? I’m going LeBron. But you couldn’t go wrong with either of the two.
Winner: LeBron James.
So that’s five matchups I’ve covered, with the Cavs winning one of them. That seems about right. I’ve got Golden State winning in five. I know that’s anti-climactic, but it’s just how I see this going down. The Warriors are good, you guys. Really, really good. One of the better teams we’ve ever seen. They can defend. They can score from anywhere in the gym. They’re an absolute matchup nightmare, with a bench so good their second unit probably would have made the playoffs in the East. LeBron is the best player on Earth. But as we saw last year, the best player doesn’t mean the best team.
And yes, there’s a lot I didn’t cover here. I could have spent an entire article examining JR Smith’s alien existence, breaking down every last way the Cavs are helped by his broccoli hair (self-reference, bro). I could have gone in for pages about another Knicks reclamation project, Iman Shumpert, wondering if defensive versatility is more valuable to the Cavs than his theme song creation skills. Hell, I could have talked backup point guards for days! The Cavs’ Matthew Dellavedova is a leg attacking goblin! Shaun Livingston might secretly be an arachnid playing for the Warriors! Golden State’s Leandro Barbosa is a blazing fast Brazilian wonder with a name and appearance just vaguely close enough to Lando Calrissian that I could have milked a few Star Wars jokes out of it! WE DIDN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT THE WARRIOR’S DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST AND OLYMPIC CHAMPION, ANDRE IGUODALA’S BROKEN SHOT. OR HOW FORMER ALL-STAR SHAWN MARION, NOW RIDING ON THE BENCH FOR CLEVELAND, HAS THE WORST LOOKING SHOT MECHANICS OF ALL TIME. OR WHAT ABOUT LEBRON’S MIAMI PETS, JAMES JONES AND MIKE MILLER? THEY’RE HERE TOO!
Sure, the Warriors might win this in five. But that doesn’t mean this series won’t be exciting. There are too many storylines, too many brilliant basketball players, too many transcendent weirdos in this series to render it boring. No matter how it ends up, this series is going to be incredibly fun to watch. The Finals are finally here. And they’re going to kick ass.