Take that Golden State!
As Clevelanders, we know what our team is capable of. That is what makes it so excruciating when they aren’t able to perform to their potential. Games 1 and 2 in Oracle Arena were the worst versions of the Cavaliers that I have seen in these playoffs. Yes, we lost to Toronto two games in a row on their home court but I still felt that we played better there than we did at Golden State.
The 120-90 drubbing we handed the Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena last night gave us a reason to celebrate but hardly to feel confident. This was maybe the worst version of the Warriors I have seen all postseason as well. They will not play that poorly every night and certainly never that bad when they return home. That is where my confidence is flailing.
In order to bring home an NBA title, the Cavs are going to have to figure out how to win in Oracle. That’s just a mathematical fact. In either game 5 or 7 they will need to do what they have only been able to do once in recent memory. The last time the Cavs beat GS at home was Game 2 of these very same NBA Finals last year. In order to accomplish that, they need to put the same level of basketball on display that was delivered last night.
We won last night because we had energy and focus. With Kevin Love out of the lineup it went without saying that one or more players would have to perform above and beyond not only what they had contributed in the series up to this point, but perhaps at a higher level than at any point in their career on this grand stage. Richard Jefferson answered that call.
In his first Finals start in like 12-13 years (when he was a much younger man), Jefferson outplayed a much younger Golden State lineup at times. His experience and determination is what propelled him to his performance last night starting in place of Kevin Love.
In my humble opinion, Richard Jefferson should start Game 4 just as he did in Game 3. Even if Kevin Love is cleared through his concussion protocol. I don’t think that the Cavaliers can afford to squander the chemistry and momentum created by that lineup.
Whatever Coach Lue decides it goes without saying that, just as game 3 was, game 4 is a must win. Personally, I don’t think this team can defeat Golden State 3 games in a row with 2 out of 3 in California. Winning Game 4 ensures us another shot to play in Cleveland even if it means we have to go 7 games. This is the end of the line. This is the only time fatigue is NOT an issue. You rest all year long to have this opportunity to empty your tank against the best. Let’s drive the needle in to the red and bring it home for Cleveland!