My name is Miles, and this is my gallery of words.

If I’m gonna tell a real story, I’m gonna start with my name.
— Kendrick Lamar
NBA Finals 2017: Game 2 Recap & Game 3 Predictions

NBA Finals 2017: Game 2 Recap & Game 3 Predictions

I recognize that life is a dream, and I dream lucid
And breaks the chains and change minds
One verse at a time, and claim 2-6
And fuck it, if the shoe fits, who’s the king?
— J. Cole

Game three flashbacks...?

Let's get right into it:

Offensive possessions have looked drastically different between both teams.  Warriors are oozing in plays.  No surprise really, when your team has such playmakers as Curry, Durant, Draymond, Iguodala and Livingston.  Set aside the offensive gravitational pull of Curry and Durant, and just for one second take into account how hard it is to guard against an offense like this one.  It's really no wonder the Cavalier's defense has looked scrambled.  You'd need eight players to guard the Warriors.  The extra passes are being made so consistently and so casually that it makes the game look easier than ever.  Hell, it allows the vets in blue and yellow shine and play with extra seconds of decision making.  It also allows for excess energy on the defensive end...

Cavaliers?  The beams are bowing under the pressure.  LeBron and Kyrie, in that order, are the premier playmakers on their team.  Which isn't uncommon; LeBron ball runs an efficient and tight set of plays that James tends to control for the vast majority of minutes.  Love can make plays, but he's clearly been told to shoot once he receives.  If the plays set up by LeBron and Kyrie don't result in an instant shot, they've ultimately resulted in turnovers and last second pass offs.

On the topic of pressure, let's talk a bit about pace differential and age.  The Warriors are a younger team overall, and in the right areas mind you.  Cleveland is very much a veteran team - not in the sense of the Mavs circa 2011, but they got some mileage on those legs.  Usually the Cav's benefit from a high tempo game due to LeBron, but they're now up against a tempo that requires rugged and physical defense.  That's the only way Cleveland can throw them off their game.  They should have started it in game 2, to be honest.  When things aren't going your way, roughhouse away.  It threw the Warriors off their game last season, at the very least.  Ultimately, I would expect Cleveland to keep the pace they've had through both games in the first quarter in an effort to build a lead.  Second half?  Grind.  If you don't have that lead past the first, assume your players are more gassed than theirs are.  Keep turnovers low, keep half court defensive pressure high, and execute offense in the half court.  Can't keep allowing these premier baskets in transition.

Part of me wonders if a major factor in the Cavalier's struggles aren't just motivation.  You have a bunch of role players and vets that had never expected to land on a team like this.  They're comfortable now.  They achieved greater than imagined.  Warriors have a heavy chip on their shoulders after not just the previous finals, but the media coverage throughout this season.  I'd like to think this isn't a factor, and that their competitive spirit would be ablaze right now if they had read this...but...

One of my biggest keys in the last article was for Cleveland to narrow the scoring gap by limiting turnovers.  Well, they limited them significantly and caused over twice the amount of them.  Got them further than the previous game, but ultimately did not help.  Simply put, Cleveland did not capitalize on second chance points.  They're missing shots they are very accustomed to making.  Meanwhile, the pace and shooting of GSW completely offset the amount of turnovers they committed.  This is a much harder matchup than I anticipated...

Meets ‘02 Lil Wayne, in a new white tee
Meets KD, ain’t no nigga that can shoot like me!
— J. Cole

Durant has too much free range, allowing his defense to flourish while also getting open looks like never before.  We saw him in game 1 blowing past defenders with them all being focused on switching over to a more iso-offense.  Then pepper in his wide open drives to the basket due to the pace and lack of transitional defense.  Game 2?  The latter definitely still stands.  On top of that, Durant is still being allowed to score at whim as well as rebound, and excel on defense.  That's the key part honestly.  Defense.  Durant has never been known as a defensive player until he joined a team reeking of offensive prowess.  He's sense then shined with the excess energy not spent on finding his shot.  He is looking like a serious candidate for best player in the league.  Or, best player in the All-Star Weekend that is the finals.

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In game 2, LeBron got Love going early on.  And they looked good.  He also started off hot offensively in the first half.  He hit his triple-double by the end, while trying to get the rest of his team going.  I'm not saying that LeBron needs to stop being the distributor that he is...but...

I know he has that switch.  And I know, he was efficient in game 2.  We need to see that game 6 against Boston in 2012 LeBron though.  The death-stare LeBron.  The one that goes for 50 and creates an insurmountable lead early on; giving his teammates the confidence to hit every shot.  Seems like a ridiculous request, but come on - we're of recently comparing him to Jordan!  And It's not like we haven't seen this from him before. 

Cleveland's role players are just not holding up to the Warrior's bench production.  Frye's defense is keeping him out of the game.  Richard Jefferson is hustling the hardest, but does not match up well against any player on the court.  J.R. Smith is on milk cartons.  Shumpert is exuding effort, but was seriously gassed to the point of needing an I.V. after game 2.  You don't want that coming from your deep backup that is coming off multiple knee surgeries.  Kyle Korver?  Drastically overrated pick up.  I think the league picked up on how to defend this dude a year ago, and he hasn't recovered since.  He requires two screens at the minimum to get a shot off, assuming he isn't wide open.  In this series, he's hit like 1-9 threes thus far.  The most disappointing?  Tristan Thompson.  God Damnit.  I was wrong three posts ago and said that the Kardashian curse was over.  He didn't actually break up with her.  His entire contract was built off rebounds, floaters and put backs.  He can't get any of that to go thus far.  LeBron probably has snipers aiming at Khloe's window as I'm typing this.

Meanwhile, Golden State's role players are being allowed to play within their realms based off the dominance of their star players.  The confidence is too high.  The only way to break the kind of rhythm they have is to build up a depilating lead early on, away from home.  Essentially, to open up possibilities for the Cavs, LeBron has to go full-fledged mode...


Durant aside, the main differential in this series thus far has been the Curry - Kyrie match up.  In the previous meeting, Kyrie was jacking cookies from Curry left and right.  Curry was at that point coming off of MCL sprain scares.  He didn't look like himself, but then again he didn't look like himself back in 2015 when healthy.  In previous articles I've alluded to much of the motivation on Golden State's side being fueled by Durant's need of supremacy and Curry's need for post-season relevance.  Well.  Here we are.  Curry is looking good.  Swag is on point, evident by the GIF below.  Irving hasn't been hitting the shots he normally does.  It's not so much Curry's defense, but more so Kyrie's hesitation.  Why's he hesitating?  Well, recent stories suggest he's been playing on an injured knee.  It'd make a lot of sense.  It'd also be a bitter sweet dose of what the Warrior's dealt with previously. 

As said before...this needs to become a two-man series.  Curry & Durant vs. LeBron & Irving.  Let the best of their supporting casts produce while the stars go off.  Both teams are essentially front-runners.  Cleveland needs to get off to a smart, but physical start.  Throw rhythmic players like Curry & Klay off of their games.  Condense defense on Durant.  Slow the transition down.  Hit your three point shots like you have throughout the season.  Let Draymond get his.  He is the key to the Warriors, but he won't win it on his own.

What do the Warriors need to do?  Dumb fucking question.  I'm just humoring both sides at this point.  They're fine.

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The disparity of talent in the NBA is coming to fruition.  Yeah, yeah.  LeBron participated in it back in 2011.  That was a reaction to the Celtics of 2008.  Before that, the acquisition of the Laker's super-duo.  Before that, you had numerous instances of star acquisitions putting teams over the edge like Philly, Boston, Lakers, and the Bulls.  None of those teams won without being top-heavy.  And those are the memorable teams that the NBA are built off of.  It ain't the 04 Pistons, or the 11 Mavs.

It's been beaten to death this season, but the fact remains that Durant joined a 73-win team that he was only one game away from of beating.  Bitch move.  Nothing honestly compares, and I urge you to hit me up and argue this point.  But the competitive spirit has wilted since then and it will only continue to get worse.  Golden Sate's core is young.  They'll only continue to improve and reload.  I'd like to say the NBA needs to reevaluate their rules, but everything that has transpired is within reason.  Curry took less money years before due to injury concerns.  They cleared out important role players to bring on Durant.  The stars have aligned for them in the sense that they're young star core can all attain solid contracts under the current cap.  I thought that sacrificing last seasons role players would hurt them.  Didn't anticipate how much the Warriors would mesh.  Egg on my face, and rightfully so.  This team is fucking ridiculous.  See you in game 3...

(Who’s the king?)
Came from the bottom nigga, with stains on my shirt
What you expected from me, I came from the dirt
(Who’s the king?)
— J. Cole
NBA Finals 2017: Game 3 Recap & Game 4 Predictions

NBA Finals 2017: Game 3 Recap & Game 4 Predictions

NBA Finals 2017: Game 1 Recap & Game 2 Predictions

NBA Finals 2017: Game 1 Recap & Game 2 Predictions