The Golden State Warriors had fans anticipating a history-making perfect post-season run. Instead of improving on their NBA record 15-0 in the playoffs, they took a record setting beating, 137-116, in Cleveland last Friday, June 9, 2017.
The loss might dishearten some of their fans, and gives a ray of hope to those who were pulling for the Cavaliers. After all, the Warriors were also ahead 3-1 last year and ended up losing the title to Cleveland on their home floor. However, for the occasional doubter in the crowd, here are a few reasons why the Golden State Warriors will still win the NBA Finals.
A Crazy Game 4 Will Wake Up the Warriors
Game 4 of the finals was about as crazy as it gets. There was the wild offensive explosion by the Cavaliers. Cleveland set records in almost every category. A record for most points in any playoff quarter, and in a half. A record for three-point shooting; 24 of them were made by the Cavaliers. LeBron James took the occasion to score his ninth triple-double in the playoffs, surpassing the record previously held by Magic Johnson.
It was not a record for the most points scored overall in the NBA Finals. That is held by the Boston Celtics, in what is popularly known as, the “Memorial Day Massacre.” Boston scored 148 points in that contest against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1985. The Lakers woke up after being dominated and went on to win that series.
This kind of game was probably necessary for the Warriors to get their minds back into playing, and away from all the talk about becoming the “greatest team of all time.” It was a wake-up call for Golden State, and they will respond back at home in game 5.
Crazy Officiating for Game 4
Then, there was the craziness of the officiating. The constant interruptions by multiple fouls called, flagrant fouls assessed, technical fouls, and the ejection of a fan upset the flow of the game, tremendously. In fact, the officials had to delay the game to look at the replay screen to ensure the calls were correct, 13 times.
The nature of the officiating included everything from a groin punch delivered by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, which was ignored, to a mixed-up second technical foul that turned out to not be a second technical, after all. It was thought by the official scorers to have been called on Golden State forward Draymond Green, which would have resulted in his ejection. Instead, the technical was, actually, called on head coach Steve Kerr.
As a result of this craziness, Cleveland ended up with 22 free throw attempts in the first quarter alone. These unusual circumstances are unlikely to be repeated. They will probably make the Warriors more determined than ever to win and vindicate themselves.
Curry Will Bounce Back and Green Will Play
Superstar, guard, Stephen Curry had a sub-par game in the fourth contest. He scored only 14 points while playing 38 minutes. He has failed to score at least 20 points only once before in the playoffs when the Warriors were far ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
In addition, Green will not be under suspension, as he was in game 5 of the finals last year. His absence helped the Cavaliers win that contest against the Warriors, propelling Cleveland to their championship in 2016.
The Warriors Home Court Advantage Is Huge
No one dominates at home like Golden State. Every NBA team that makes it to the playoffs has some kind of a home court advantage. However, the Warriors advantage is overwhelming, especially in this post-season. They have yet to lose on their home court in the playoffs this year. Cleveland has lost twice at home.
In fact, Golden State only lost 5 of 41 home games all season. That is half the amount of home games dropped by the Cavaliers. The Warriors have maintained home-court mastery for the past three seasons. Two years ago, they lost 2 games at home. Moreover, from the end of 2015 into 2016, they compiled an NBA record 54 straight home wins. That kind of home court advantage will be key to finishing off the Cavaliers and reclaiming the NBA title.
Golden State Is Better Than Last Year
The Warriors are a better team this year than they were last year. That seems preposterous considering they set an NBA record for wins last season with a 73-9 record. This year they finished the regular season with a 67-15 record. So, what makes them better this year? The answer is embodied in one player, Kevin Durant, acquired in the off-season from Oklahoma City.
Durant is a former MVP and a perennial All-Star. He has NBA Finals experience, having lost, in 2012, to the Miami Heat when they had LeBron James on their roster. Thus, Durant is highly motivated, as well as being a spectacular performer.
Both his motivation and performance have been exhibited during the playoffs and especially in the finals. He scored 30 points or more in every game of the NBA Finals this year. His superb play will be on full display when the Warriors face the Cavaliers for game 5 in Oakland, California, on Monday, June 12.
All of these reasons are why the Warriors will still win the NBA Finals this year. In fact, it may just be the beginning of a slew of championships for this amazing franchise.
Opinion News By D.T. Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
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BASKETBALL REFERENCE: 2016-17 Golden State Warriors Schedule and Results
BASKETBALL REFERENCE: 2014-15 Golden State Warriors Schedule and Results
Chicago Tribune: Warriors’ Draymond Green embraces role of NBA Finals heel
Cleveland.com: Two teams have won NBA Finals after losing Game 1 by 20 points or more
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Featured and Top Image Courtesy of D.T. Osborn