Of the major American sports leagues, it’s the NBA that draws the lion’s share of conspiracy theories. From Michael Jordan’s first retirement to Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals to frozen draft-day envelopes, NBA fans see webs of deceit spun by the commissioner, Las Vegas casinos, and the television broadcasters everywhere they look. Last night, it was the Golden State Warriors that got caught in the NBA’s gossamer strings.
Ok, that’s not true. The Warriors just stunk up the place in the second half and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 112-97.
But still, let’s indulge, shall we?
After the Warriors spanked Cleveland on their homecourt, the Warriors had this thing all wrapped up; a 3-1 lead with the next game back home in Oakland—as close to a sure-thing as you can get in sports. Then in the post-game, we saw the first signs that something wasn’t right.
During the game itself, in its waning minutes with the Warriors in full control, Draymond Green and LeBron James got into a little kerfuffle. LeBron had pushed a flopping Dray onto the floor, LeBron stepped over Dray, Dray pushed LeBron off, Dray called LeBron a word and LeBron’s feelings got hurt. At the time, no one thought anything other than Draymond had gotten under LeBron’s skin and LeBron was shook. But in the post-game press conferences, the Cavs coach, Ty Lue, burned the referees. LeBron said that Dray had crossed the line. Across the nation, eyes rolled.
In the days that followed, LeBron was getting killed for exemplifying the very word that had damaged him so. Ridicule poured down from NBA veterans, current players, fans, and the media. It just was not a good look. Nevertheless, it was working. The secret campaign to get Draymond suspended seemed to be working. And then it happened: Draymond Green suspended for Game 5. But we knew what was up we had our tin-foil hats on and the league couldn’t brainwash us.
With Draymond Green suspended for an otherwise inevitable Warriors win in Oakland, suddenly a 4-1 five-game series was in jeopardy. Handicapped by missing the second-best defender in the league, the Warriors could very well go down. Then they’d have to try to win it all in Game 6, but with that game being in Cleveland, a victory is anything but assured. Then Game 7. The holy grail. Not only would the NBA and ABC have gotten the max number of games, they’d also get what would probably be the most watched game in Finals history. The fix was in.
That’s the theory. Here’s the reality: the Warriors stunk. Steph Curry stunk. Harrison Barnes really stunk. LeBron James snatched the boos and shoved them back down Oakland’s throat. Kyrie Irving snatched Steph’s cheat codes and played like a video game.
This is also reality: with Draymond out, the Warriors defense was a donut and LeBron and Kyrie ran right through the hole. The first duo to both score more than 40-points each in a Finals game, LeBron and Kyrie scored 82 of the Cavs’ 112 points. LeBron’s outside jumpshot was on last night, which opened up lanes for him to drive through, which left him room for his outside jumpshot, which opened up lanes for him to drive through. Over and over again, shot, drive, shot, drive. Kyrie, though, was the one who stole the show. Taking on the MVP, Kyrie just could not miss. Any time the ball left his hands, it ended with the ball in the basket. It was one of the best Finals performances we’ll ever see.
The Warriors are still in control of this series, but the Finals looks a helluva lot different than it did after Game 4. Though up 3-2, they will have to travel to Cleveland for Game 6. They won this game last year and showered Cleveland with champagne. They will probably (hopefully?) win it again this year. But if they don’t oh Lord, if they don’t! That means Game 7. Yes, it’ll be in Oakland, and yes, the Warriors will probably be favored to win. But that means absolutely nothing. Anything can happen in one game. I’m throwing up just thinking about it.
That being said, Draymond will be back for Game 6, and the Warriors will have the full-squad back. No, that’s not true. Andrew Bogut got injured last night. As of right now, we do not know how severe it is, but it did not look good. Also, if Draymond gets another flagrant foul, he’ll be suspended for Game 7. Brb, gotta vomit.
The Over-Reaction: RIGGED!!!
The Mild-Mannered Reaction: No, really, this shit was rigged.
Golden State Warriors v. Cleveland Cavaliers
Warriors lead series, 3-2
Thursday, June 2: Warriors WON
Sunday, June 5: Warriors WON , 110-77
Wednesday, June 8: Warriors LOST, 120-90
Friday, June 10: Warriors WON, 108-97
Monday, June 13: Warriors LOST, 112-97
Thursday, June 16: Warriors at Cleveland, 6 PM (ABC)
Sunday, June 19: Warriors at home, 5 PM (ABC)