NBA Finals Happenings and Goings-On, Ranked

After being treated to two classic Finals games to start the series (the first Finals to ever start with back-to-back overtime games), there is a lot to talk about. I see no better way to discuss these things than ranking them. Let’s get arbitrary!

Bench Dudes

8. David Lee

If I’m being honest, I had no idea David Lee was regularly scooping up DNP-CD’s on the Warriors bench. With the Warriors depth, it’s not surprising, but lest we forget Lee is a former All-Star. Meanwhile, who is Steve Kerr playing ahead of Lee? The holiday Frank Costanza invented and this guy:

Sorry, David.

6 (tie). Brendan Haywood / Kendrick Perkins

Name one thing either of these guys does well, that doesn’t rhyme with “schmetting screens”. Even for centers, they aren’t great defenders or rebounders. They’re essentially the same guy. Except Perkins would gladly punch you in the face, while Haywood probably doesn’t even drink fruit punch because it’s too violent.

I love the idea of them sitting next to each other on the bench and I hope there’s a movie about them coming in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

5. Justin Holliday

Little Jrue! For all I know, he’s older than Jrue, but who cares. I’m calling him Little Jrue.

3 (tie). Shawn Marion, Mike Miller

What Haywood and Perkins are for bigs, Marion and Miller are for swingmen. I suppose that’s a nice way of saying they are crazy washed up and have no business in the Finals.

Here’s the crazy thing: THE CAVS HAVE ALL FOUR OF THESE GUYS WASTING AWAY ON THEIR BENCH.

2. James Michael McAdoo

This is the part where you realize how ridiculous these rankings are. However, in my defense, JMM holds special recognition here at Palestra Back. He was on the 2014 March Madness All-Handsome Team!

2titus

1. Joe Harris

Take a second look at that 2014 All-Handsome Team. McAdoo was a welcome addition to the squad but there is only one MVP. There’s an All-Handsome Hall of Famer (note to self: idea for future post…) playing in these Finals.

And that man is Joe Malcolm Harris (and yes, according to the internet, it’s just “Joe”, not “Joseph”).¬†Harris has long been the object of my fake affection:

I’m really happy to have him here, but like the parent of a middle schooler, I can’t understand why my boy isn’t getting more minutes. First he gets ignored by the Rookie of the Year voters, and now James Jones is getting run before him.

Keep fighting, Joe. We’ll always have Charlottesville.

Times “LeBron James Kid” Says “LeBron James”

If you aren’t familiar with LeBron James Kid (no, not LeBron James’ Kid), SHAME ON YOU. Watch this 40,000 times:

The kid steals my heart each time he utters his catchphrase, but I need to rank them.

6. The Last Half One

lbj kid 5

I HATE that it cuts him off. Curse you, Vine and your short run time.

5. The Second to Last One

lbj kid 4

Standard delivery. Still amazing.

4. The Second One

lbj kid 2

There’s attitude in this one. He leans into those syllables.

3. The Zoom In

lbj kid 3

It flirts with the line between funny and frightening and comes out on top.

2. The Original

lbj kid 1

He never matches the cadence of his first. I spend every viewing of the video waiting for him to match this, but it never happens.

1. The RETURN

UNTIL THE COMEBACK! The sequel is never as good as the original, except here. He’s in on the joke now, but that just makes it better.

Reasons I Still Don’t Think the Cavs Can Win the Series

3. As a series continues, the better coach will make himself apparent.

Thus far, the only time Steve Kerr has truly outcoached David Blatt was in overtime of Game 1. Going with the Warriors slick super small lineup allowed them to dash out to a big lead that they never gave back.

For whatever reason, or reasons I’ll get to in a moment, Kerr was unable to make a real effect on Game 2. The Warriors offense looked sloppy until their late run, and then faded back into sloppiness in overtime. Perhaps it was Matthew Dellevedova’s smothering defense on Steph Curry, but the Warriors are flush with other guys who are capable of creating offense.

I expect Kerr, with two games under his belt, to continue to tweak Golden State’s game plan. Offensively, that means finding better shots for Curry. Defensively, it means finding an answer for LeBron. Clearly they’ve allowed him to iso and see if he can beat them himself. Well, he can. He’s a historically great passer, but I’m not confident in the guys he’s passing too. We’ll see if Kerr agrees or stays with the status quo.

2. The Cavs lack of depth will come calling.

Reading through that ranking of bench players should raise red flags for any Cleveland fans out there. They only played eight guys in Game 2, and one of those was six lackluster minutes from Mike Miller.

The Warriors will continue to be able to run in more reinforcements than Cleveland, and their depth gives them versatility. Substitutions for the Cavs have become much more about rest than strategy. They simply need to find ways to make it through these hard fought games.

LeBron is a machine but multiple 50+ minute games will wear on anyone, and behind him to pick up the slack are a bunch of guys also playing too many minutes. Eventually, this is going to get exposed.

1. LeBron and Steph Curry will both regress towards the mean.

SBNation’s Rodger Sherman did a great job looking at this. LeBron was great. Curry was awful. The Cavs still needed to eek out a win.

I won’t be surprised if LeBron continues to put up monster numbers, but with fresh bodies and new looks being thrown at him each time out, carrying this team on his back may get more cumbersome.

Meanwhile, Curry missed more 3-pointers than anyone in Finals history, and his team still reached overtime and had the final possession of the game with a chance to win. He doesn’t need to shoot the lights out like he has all playoffs. Simply shooting in the same universe as his career percentages is worth quite swing in Golden State’s favor.

Towards the end of the game (until that awful airball), Curry was looking to get to the rim, and doing so sparked the Warriors comeback. If he can continue that aggressive approach, either by beating Dellevedova off the dribble or by finding the right match-up off of switches, it will not only lead to looks at the rim for him, but should open up passing lanes to teammates and make getting space for his own jumper much easier.

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.

If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com.

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