Dan Feldman

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23 and Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Cavaliers left it all on the floor in Finals

2 Comments

LeBron James played, and Stephen Curry sat.

In a tight NBA Finals, that might have been the difference.

Steve Kerr made some strange coaching decisions in the fourth quarter of Game 7 – Festus Ezeli, anyone? – but the most baffling might have been opening the period with Curry on the bench.

This was Game 7 of the NBA Finals. There’s something to be said for rest, but there are better opportunities to give your best player a breather.

With Curry sitting, the Warriors turned a one-point lead into a three-point deficit.

Meanwhile, LeBron played the entire fourth quarter – and the entire two quarters before that. Curry didn’t even crack 40 minutes for the game.

There were nine times in the 2016 Finals someone played more than 42 minutes in a game (rounding to the nearest minute). Eight were by Cavaliers. Draymond Green in Game 7 was the only Warrior:

image

Perhaps the Cavaliers had more energy, because they coasted at times in the regular season rather than pursuing the NBA wins record. Maybe Cleveland players are better conditioned. Or maybe Tyronn Lue just asked more of his starters than Kerr did.

Regardless of the reason, the Cavs had their top talent on the floor more often than the Warriors in this series.

No team had so many games of more than 42 minutes in a Finals in the previous decade. With seven more such games than the Warriors, the Cleveland matched the biggest difference in a Finals since the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff format in 1984.

Here’s the number of qualifying games by each team in the Finals, NBA champions in gold and runners-up in wine:

image

All season, the Warriors were hailed as a futuristic team – their 3-point-centric offense and switching defense hallmarks of the modern NBA. Yet, they were taken down by old-school sensibilities.

The Cavaliers’ best players handled heavy workloads, and it paid off with a championship. They can rest in the offseason.

Eventually.

Cavs stop for Vegas party on way home to Cleveland (video)

Leave a comment

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their NBA championship Vegas-style on their way back home.

The Cavs stopped in Las Vegas early Monday morning after winning the title on the road over the Warriors in Oakland, California, on Sunday night.

Pictures posted on Twitter by the XS Las Vegas nightclub show LeBron James, Kevin Love and the rest of the team partying early Monday:

 

One picture shows Cavs guard Kyrie Irving posing near a cake shaped like the Larry O’Brien trophy, which goes to the NBA champion:

The Cavaliers are set to finally make it back to Cleveland early Monday afternoon.

Warriors open as favorites to win 2017 NBA championship

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors congratulates Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning Game 7 and the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
6 Comments

Around this point last year, the Cavaliers were favored to win the 2016 title.

They quickly lost that status as the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games then built a 3-1 lead in the Finals.

Now, after winning the championship, Cleveland still isn’t favored for one.

The Cavs, underdogs to Golden State for months, are still underdogs to Golden State for the 2017 title.

Here are the full odds, via Bovada:

  • Golden State Warriors 2/1
  • Cleveland Cavaliers 9/4
  • San Antonio Spurs 15/2
  • Oklahoma City Thunder 17/2
  • Los Angeles Clippers 20/1
  • Boston Celtics 25/1
  • Toronto Raptors 25/1
  • Chicago Bulls 33/1
  • Miami Heat 33/1
  • Atlanta Hawks 50/1
  • Houston Rockets 50/1
  • Dallas Mavericks 66/1
  • New Orleans Pelicans 66/1
  • Charlotte Hornets 75/1
  • Detroit Pistons 75/1
  • Indiana Pacers 75/1
  • Memphis Grizzlies 75/1
  • Minnesota Timberwolves 75/1
  • New York Knicks 75/1
  • Portland Trailblazers 75/1
  • Washington Wizards 75/1
  • Denver Nuggets 100/1
  • Los Angeles Lakers 100/1
  • Milwaukee Bucks 100/1
  • Sacramento Kings 100/1
  • Utah Jazz 100/1
  • Orlando Magic 125/1
  • Philadelphia 76ers 150/1
  • Phoenix Suns 150/1
  • Brooklyn Nets 250/1

At this time in 2014, the Heat were favored to win the 2015 title. They didn’t even make the playoffs. Of course, LeBron James leaving in free agency had something to do with that.

The big question this year: Where will Kevin Durant sign? If you have an early read on that, put money down on his destination. The Thunder, Warriors and Spurs are big overlays if they get Durant.

But with Durant’s future unknown, it’s tougher to pick. Still, I might roll the dice on Oklahoma City 17/2 and hope Durant returns for at least one more year.

Report: LeBron James leaning toward skipping Olympics

AP Photo/Christian Petersen
5 Comments

If LeBron James agreed to play in the Olympics, he’s probably changing his mind.

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

In the aftermath of a grueling NBA Finals, LeBron James is leaning toward not competing at the Olympics in Rio this summer, league sources told The Vertical.

While James has not informed USA Basketball of his decision, team officials are operating with the expectation that it is unlikely James will be part of the team.

LeBron is 31, and he just carried the Cavaliers to a championship. He has played for Team USA in three Olympics, winning two gold medals.

If anyone has earned the right to sit this one out, it’s him.

The Americans have planned for his absence, and there’s still a large talent pool to draw from. DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are a nice start. Team USA won’t be operating at peak potential, but the team is still favored to win in Rio.

LeBron James becomes first player on record to lead series in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds his daughter Zhuri during a press conference after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 to win the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
7 Comments

LeBron James last year became the first player to lead an NBA Finals in points, rebounds and assists.

This year, he upped the ante.

LeBron led the 2016 Finals in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks – becoming the first player on record to lead ANY series in those five categories.

The Cavaliers needed historical dominance to beat a historically great opponent, and LeBron delivered it. In leading Cleveland to a win over the Warriors, LeBron averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.

Had anyone ever come close leading a series in all five major stats before?

To measure, I took each player’s production as a percentage of the series leader. So, if someone grabbed 8.0 rebounds per game and the series leader averaged 10.0, the player would get 80% for that category. Add the percentage of the leader for all five stats, and the max score is 500%.

Here’s every time someone hit 450% in series Basketball-Reference.com has data for – since 1984 for all series, since 1974 for the Finals.

LeBron James (six times) and Michael Jordan (twice) are the only players with multiple appearances on the leaderboard. Jordan held the previous record – 478% against the 76ers in the 1991 second round, when he led the series in points, assists, steals and blocks but ranked fourth in rebounds.

image