Last night the Warriors completed their sweep of the pitifully depleted San Antonio Spurs, advancing to the NBA Finals with a perfect 12–0 playoff record. Which is nice, but a footnote at best. Their mission will not be complete until they win four more — almost certainly against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had a little hiccup on Sunday when they lost a game to the also sadly depleted Boston Celtics. That was probably a fluke that the Cavs will correct going forward, but the Celtics are to be commended for at least offering a little competition.
So let’s go ahead and take a minute to appreciate the W’s advancing to their third straight Finals, a remarkable run of consistent success for a team that before 2014 had managed only one playoff appearance in 20 years. Then let’s forget all about that and look to the future — we have nine days to rest and get ready for the heavy rooting that will be required starting June 1.
We pretty much knew what was going to happen in this game yesterday morning, when word came down that Kawhi Leonard once again would not be playing. Without him, and with point guard Tony Parker already done for the year (and possibly forever), the Spurs simply don’t have the firepower to hang with the Warriors.
But they did a pretty good job of it for a quarter and change yesterday, with ex-Warrior David Lee torturing his replacement Draymond Green down on the block. Then Lee went up for a contested layup and came down funny. He left the game and did not return — he tore a patellar tendon, it turns out — and once again the Spurs were forced to turn to their bench, bringing in little-used Joel Anthony.
Even after that they hung tight for awhile, but the writing was on the wall. The Warriors started to slowly pull away and while the game never turned into a blowout, there was never any doubt about the outcome.
Meanwhile, over in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers laid a historic beatdown on the Celtics in Game 2 of their series, going up 72–31 at the half and winning by 44. It is now not just possible but likely that both the W’s and the Cavs will get to the Finals without losing a game, which will be…interesting. If both teams sweep their respective series, there will be eight long, long days off before the Finals begin on June 1. How on Earth shall we keep ourselves entertained?
R.I.P. Chris Cornell
This one gets an asterisk too, because with Kawhi Leonard out with an ankle injury, the Spurs looked nothing like the team the made the Warriors’ lives hell for the first 30 minutes of Game 1. He is their linchpin on both defense and offense, and in his absence Steph Curry went immediately into Human Torch mode, scoring 15 points in the first quarter as the W’s went up 33–16.
This game was never close and not, in fact, very interesting. But again, a win is a win is a win. The Warriors need only six more of them to hoist the trophy. The hope all around is that Kawhi will be back for Saturday’s Game 3, making things a little more competitive.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference Finals will finally get underway tonight, with the well-rested Cleveland Cavaliers facing the scrappy Boston Celtics. There are a lot of us hoping that the Celtics can provide at least a modicum of challenge for the defending champs; we shall see what we shall see.