2018 NBA Finals – Cavs vs Warriors – Sweet Sweep

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The Golden State Warriors are the 2018 NBA Champions and have now won 2 titles in succession and 3 trophies in 4 years. They have made their statement by playing TEAM ball without caring what the rest of the basketball world have said about this current dynasty. If Warrior haters are tired of seeing the same team in the Finals year-after-year, then some other team has to beat them before they get to the Finals…. Period.  The same can be said about the Cleveland Cavs who have also reached the Finals in the last 4 years. The difference is that the Cavs have lost to the Warriors in 3 of the 4 Finals. In head-to-head games between the Warriors and Cavs since the beginning of 2017, the Warriors are 3-0 during the regular season and 8-1 in the Finals for a combined 11-1 in the last two years. This is called DOMINATION !!!

As for the pundits who say that the Houston Rockets would have beaten the Warriors if Chris Paul hadn’t hurt his leg at the end of Game 5 of their 7 game series.  Why don’t these pundits look at what the Rockets didn’t do in Games 6 and 7. In Game 7, from the middle of the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 4th, the Rockets missed an NBA record 27 straight 3-point shot attempts and finished making 1 of their last 30 three point shots. James Harden was 2 for 13, Trevor Ariza 0 for 9, and Eric Gordon 2 for 12. In the 2nd half of Game 7, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets 58-38. In the 2nd half of Game 6, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets 64-25. Thus, for the 2 games that mattered most, the Warriors out-scored the Rockets in the 2nd half for a combined 122-63. Can anyone convince me that Chris Paul would have made up a 59 point difference in the 2nd half of Games 6 and 7? Also, one can easily say that the Warriors would have won that series in 5 games if Andre Iguodala hadn’t hurt his knee. The point is that teams have to play with the players available to them. It just so happens that the Warriors have more depth than any other team in the league… This is the reason that their motto, “Strength in Numbers” fits the team so well.

Let’s take a look at the Warriors Strength in Numbers during the Finals:

Shaun Livingston – made 13 out of 15 shots

JaVale McGee – made 16 out of 20 shots

Jordan Bell – made 10 out of 14 shots

Andre Iguodala – made 7 out of 12 shots

Kevon Looney – made 5 out of 7 shots

So these 5 players shot a cool 75% from the field during the Finals. This, my friends, is called Strength in Numbers !!!

Now, let’s take a look at the age of the core of the Warriors Team:

Kevin Durant (29), Steph Curry (30), Klay Thompson (27), Draymond Green (27), JaVale McGee (30), Shaun Livingston (32), Jordan Bell (23), Andre Iguodala (34), Kevon Looney (21), Zaza Pachulia (33), David West (37), Nick Young (32), Quinn Cook (24), and Patrick McCaw (22).

With the exception of Pachulia and West (and perhaps Iguodala), the rest of the guys on the World Champion team are all in their prime with their better years ahead of them. This is called current and ongoing DYNASTY !!!

For Warrior haters who dislike their “Super Team” image, of the 4 super-stars, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson were all draft picks. Kevin Durant, is the only super-star who signed from another team. All of the other “Super Team” pretenders have spent millions (up to their salary cap) to sign the next level stars in their attempt to beat the Warriors. If these teams would draft better and/or sign complimentary “team” players instead of signing individuals who play for themselves, they would have a better chance to catch up to the Warriors.

Kevin Durant won his 2nd consecutive MVP award for the Finals but on this team, individual awards take a back seat to the team goal of Team World Championships. If I were to pick an MVP, my most valuable individual in this injury ridden year is Chelsea Lane, the team’s Head Performance Therapist. She worked diligently on Steph Curry on his 3 ankle sprains and the severe knee contusion, on Andre Iguodala on his knee bone bruise, and performed a miracle on Klay Thompson’s ankle which he injured in Game 1 of the Finals. Due to Chelsea’s great work, Klay didn’t miss any games.

We can talk at length about the drama in Game 1 of the Finals when LeBron’s drive to the bucket with less than a minute was initially called a blocking foul on Durant, then changed (correctly) to a charge. Or the George Hill missed free throw with 4 seconds left which would have given the Cavs a lead. Or the JR Smith empty brain decision when he rebounded the missed free throw and dribbled the clock out because he thought the Cavs were ahead. He received the loudest standing ovation at Roaracle Arena in Game 2 when his name was announced and also received a chant of MVP MVP MVP when he went to the free throw line during the game. If the Cavs had won Game 1, then the series would have been over in 5 games instead of a 4 game sweep. We later learned that LeBron took his frustration out on a white-board after the Game 1 loss. But, apparently, this white-board took it out on Lebron’s hand and won that battle, too. Here is another example of the difference between the Cavs and Warriors. Steve Kerr can shatter a white-board during the game and his players get the message and responds in a positive way. LeBron breaks a white-board and also breaks his hand and his team doesn’t respond. Steve used a magic marker to break the white-board. There was no magic in LeBron’s hand when the Cavs needed a lot of magic.

In the 2018 NBA season, there were 3 teams in contention for the Title… The Warriors, Rockets, and Cavs… In a seven game series, the cream always rises to the top and the Warriors have been the cream of the crop for the last two years.

This year’s Finals sweep was indeed very sweet !!!

2016-2017 NBA Player Plus/Minus Statistics

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The Plus/Minus statistic measures how the team performs when the player is on the court. A higher Plus score means that the team scores more points when the player is on the court and the Minus score is the converse.

This stat is influenced by how the other 4 players perform. However, over a season, a conclusion can be made that players having the highest Plus scores do have a positive impact on their teams.

Following is the Plus/Minus scores for the 2016-2017 NBA season for the Top 50 ranked players with positive Plus scores. You can draw your own conclusions on what this means to the MVP voters. One thing that can positively be concluded is that the Warriors have 5 of the top 6 players with respect to this metric. Thus, it should come as no surprise that they have the best record in the league.

Note: These stats come from Sportingcharts.com

Rank Player Team Plus/Minus Per Game Per 36 minutes
1 Stephen Curry GS 979 12.7 13.7
2 Draymond Green GS 815 11 12.1
3 Klay Thompson GS 771 10.1 10.7
4 Kevin Durant GS 653 11.1 11.9
5 Chris Paul LAC 526 9.1 10.4
6 Andre Iguodala GS 513 6.9 9.5
7 LeBron James CLE 495 6.9 6.6
8 Kawhi Leonard SA 453 6.4 6.8
9 Rudy Gobert UTA 432 5.6 5.9
10 J.J. Redick LAC 419 5.6 7.1
11 James Harden HOU 417 5.4 5.3
12 DeAndre Jordan LAC 412 5.3 6
13 Patty Mills SA 411 5.4 8.8
14 Zaza Pachulia GS 395 5.9 11.8
15 Blake Griffin LAC 392 6.8 7.1
16 Ryan Anderson HOU 386 5.7 6.9
17 Trevor Ariza HOU 385 5 5.2
18 Patrick Beverley HOU 354 5.5 6.5
19 Kevin Love CLE 345 6.1 7
20 Gordon Hayward UTA 342 4.9 5.1
21 Kyrie Irving CLE 338 4.8 5
22 Patrick Patterson TOR 336 5.4 7.9
23 Eric Gordon HOU 332 4.6 5.3
24 Jae Crowder BOS 330 4.8 5.3
25 Kyle Lowry TOR 327 5.7 5.5
26 Bradley Beal WAS 318 4.2 4.4
27 David Lee SA 297 4 7.7
28 LaMarcus Aldridge SA 293 4.2 4.7
29 JaVale McGee GS 292 3.9 15.2
30 Nikola Jokic DEN 281 4.1 5.3
31 Danny Green SA 276 4.2 5.6
32 Manu Ginobili SA 266 4 7.7
33 Russell Westbrook OKC 259 3.3 3.4
34 John Wall WAS 255 3.3 3.3
35 Isaiah Thomas BOS 245 3.4 3.6
36 George Hill UTA 238 5.1 5.7
37 Cody Zeller CHA 230 3.9 5
38 Dewayne Dedmon SA 221 3.1 6.3
39 Pau Gasol SA 217 3.6 5
40 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute LAC 217 2.8 4.6
41 Marcin Gortat WAS 215 2.7 3.1
42 Steven Adams OKC 209 2.8 3.3
43 Jonathon Simmons SA 209 2.8 5.8
44 Victor Oladipo OKC 206 3.3 3.5
45 Otto Porter WAS 200 2.5 2.8
46 Kemba Walker CHA 195 2.5 2.6
47 Al Horford BOS 194 3 3.3
48 Nene Hilario HOU 191 2.9 5.9
49 Tony Parker SA 190 3.2 4.5
50 Amir Johnson BOS 189 2.4 4.3