It was bound to happen eventually. It may have been entertaining to see the short-handed Cavaliers push the Warriors in games 2 and 3, but ultimately you can’t defy science.
The Cavs and their seven-man rotation performed admirably over the first three games of the NBA Finals, especially against MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but there are serious signs that fatigue is getting the better of Cleveland. Golden State with a field goal percentage of 46.8%, is easily the highest shooting percentage posted all series long. Towards the end of game 3, Steph Curry repeatedly was able to get separation from Matthew Dellavedova, and as a result, is starting to find his rhythm. Both teams have played close to the same number of games this season, but with Cleveland missing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Golden State’s rotation is roughly three players deeper.
It was thrilling to see Cleveland stay competitive, which undoubtedly TV executives and the NBA also appreciate, but this is pro sports. When there are injuries or suspensions to key players, you can’t simply plug anybody into that spot and expect the same results. It has been reported by ESPN that Cavs Head Coach David Blatt is inclined to be more reliant on veterans Mike Miller and Shawn Marion in the remaining games of the series. While it would definitely help cut down the minutes of Cleveland’s fatigued key players, it’s hard to see how this strategy will help the Cavs. Neither Marion or Miller played a significant part in the Cavs’ success this season. In the short time Miller has been on the floor in these finals, he has been ineffective.
This year’s NBA Finals have made for entertaining television, and in my opinion the most intriguing of the 2000’s. With LeBron James averaging 41 points per game over the series’ first three games, and carrying his weary team against the heavily-favored Warriors it has turned the finals into a showcase. The world, and especially Ohio, relishes the passion and the compassion of LeBron James. However, as Cleveland sports fans well know, it’s not too pleasant when reality finally sets in.