Cavaliers-Warriors Part IV: Appreciating The Game In Front Of Us

Cavaliers-Warriors Part IV: Appreciating The Game In Front Of Us

The curious case of fan Finals' fatigue

With the conclusion of the NBA Conference Finals, we have a very familiar Finals matchup on our hands. The last three seasons have concluded with these two heavyweights going back and forth, and the Warriors have come away with two titles to the Cavaliers’ one.

Following the thrilling Game 7’s, there has been constant chatter in the NBA world among fans of “Finals fatigue.” There’s been a growing sense that the NBA lacks parity – that unlike other leagues, the Finals’ matchups occur too often and are far too predictable. It seems fans are wondering why to bother watching the regular season and playoffs when the same result occurs by season’s end.

These questions, to me, appear misinformed. Anyone that watched the playoffs this year knew this Finals’ matchup was anything but certain. The Boston Celtics gave the Cavs everything they could handle, to the point that LeBron James had to play ridiculous minutes that most humans couldn’t endure.

The Warriors, meanwhile, were pushed to the brink by the Rockets, falling behind 3-2 and needed a fortunate Chris Paul injury to escape. One or two bounces going the other way (like the Celtics not inexplicably letting Jeff Green score 19 points or the Rockets not missing 27 straight threes) and those series look completely different.

Many are also pointing to this repeat matchup as a new phenomenon for the league, and use it as proof that the NBA isn’t as good as it used to be. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The NBA has a proud history of consistently putting the two best teams in the Finals.

Often times in other leagues, “fraudulent” teams seem to make their way to a championship. In the MLB and NHL, a hot, average team can win it all. In the NFL, a quarterback can have the four best games of his life and lead his team to a Super Bowl (see: Flacco, Joseph est. 2012).

The NBA is the only league that has the tried-and-true method to weed out weaker teams and lead to a competitive finale to determine a champion. The best team always wins.

Looking at the history of the NBA, a select few teams have often dominated the league at a given time. In the 2000s, it was the Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, Heat, and Celtics. In the 1990s, it was the Bulls and Rockets. This can be done for every decade, often with multiple repeat matchups. The Warriors and Cavaliers of the 2010s are nothing new, presenting a repeat of dominant teams of years past.

Luckily for these NBA fans, the NBA is as unpredictable as it is predictable. One small change – a turnover, a coaching debacle, an injury – can completely change how the Finals playout. Dynastic level runs, like we are seeing with the Cavaliers and Warriors, eventually come to an end, and many times at unexpected junctures.

Jordan retired, unretired, then retired again. Shaq and Kobe couldn’t get along, the Spurs struggled with opponents making lucky shots, defensive rule changes doomed the starless Pistons, Wade had a terrible team around him post-Shaq, and the Celtics and Lakers duked it out with equally talented teams before getting old.

Whatever happens in this Finals, history shows this matchup won’t last forever. Cleveland is a heavy underdog, and another Finals loss may be one too many for LeBron to stick around without having a significantly improved roster around him. The Warriors appear to have unprecedented staying power with four all-stars on their roster.

However, even they looked vulnerable without their emotional leader Andre Iguodala in the Houston series and will have to make some tough salary cap decisions down the road. The Conference Finals’ runners-up, Houston and Boston, look to be even better next year with fully healthy rosters and an additional chip on their respective shoulders. Hell, one of these teams could end up adding LeBron to their roster.

Promising teams brimming with potential that fail to win a title are often looked upon with rose-colored glasses. The idea that “it wasn’t their year, and they’ll have plenty of time to make their own dynastic run” is often the prominent thought process.

Taking one look at the 1995 Magic and the 2012 Thunder, two Finals’ losers that had young superstars that were just too young to win a title at the time, never made it back. Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, said in 2017 that too many people look at the NBA as being static. Young players improve, old players, decline. A coaching change, much like the ones the Warriors made to replace Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr, can spur a dynasty.

Eventually, the Warriors and Cavaliers will not meet in the Finals and new teams will battle for NBA supremacy. In the meantime, it’s important to recognize and appreciate the greatness that is being played in front of us. The Warriors and Cavaliers play beautiful basketball, have some of the NBA’s brightest stars on their rosters, and create enough drama to fill a CBS afternoon TV slate.

Getting stuck in the sad cycle of constantly wanting something new only hurts your viewing perception and may signal that it’s time for a lesson in patience and enjoying what is given. I’ve never seen an Orlando Magic championship, and as a fan, I crave one as badly as fans of the 28 other teams not in this year’s Finals do.

I know it will come in time, as hard a pill that is to swallow. For now, I’m going to celebrate getting to see the greatest team of all time and a player that has made eight straight Finals play in a seven-game showdown. We are truly the lucky ones.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.


We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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The Excitement Of The NBA Playoffs Without Lebron James

The NBA playoffs are among us and it is my favorite time of the year. The time for the NBA to shine is the playoffs, but this year's rating has seen a bit of decline.


The NBA playoffs are a very exciting time for the typical NBA fan and I sure love nothing more than to kick back and watch the action. The excitement and the number of games on are unreal and they start one after another so every game can be watched without another one interfering with the other. The games have so much more than typical basketball and people are disappointed this year because Lebron James missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The last 14 years he has been dominating the NBA playoffs and this year was different so the ratings are plummeting.

The series are a best of 7 making it a long fun series of games with so much on the line. I have watched many of the games and highlights and have truly appreciated the greatness I am watching. The lower seeded teams have been doing well against the best teams and are giving them a run for the money. We have had a few fun blowout games that are interesting because you are seeing a team dominate the entire game and hit many great shots and make big plays. The good teams are still winning most of the games, but at least we have some close games that come down to the buzzer to make for great competition.

We then have young stars like Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons who have been giving us some amazing stat lines and leading their team to big first-round wins and both making huge highlights so far. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and James Harden have been the big stars having great games and contributing heavily to both their teams and the ratings to make the playoffs fun. Even without Lebron, these guys are still showing us how fun basketball is to watch and play.

The style of team basketball many of these guys are playing with is amazing to watch. I am all about teamwork and there is a new player doing something spectacular and having a standout game every night with the help of their team. The Los Angeles Clippers rallied for the biggest playoff comeback in NBA history by coming back from 31 down against the defending champions the Golden State Warriors. It is nice to see teams like the Clippers, Magic, and Pacers who do not have a standout star play great team basketball. These teams are losing most of their games, but they do not have the talent these other teams have. They are going out and playing well as a team every single night and working to make sure everyone is contributing on offense and defense to have a chance to win.

Damian Lillard even hit a buzzer beater to win the series over the Thunder the other night and it shows us how much of an impact one player can have on the whole game. The excitement of the upcoming free agency period is vastly hyped, but the current teams are so well set up for success that the next 2 rounds of the playoffs will be the ultimate tests for all teams to see who will play each other for the championship.

Everyone thinks the Warriors will once again host the NBA Larry O'Brien Trophy and be the top team in the league for the next year, but there are a few teams that have been quite impressive all season and have the momentum in their favor just as much as the defending champions. There will be plenty of big games to come and I am positive the players will put on a huge showing to make these playoffs memorable for all true NBA fans. Lebron is my favorite player of all time and I love watching him play especially in the finals for the title, but the ratings should still be high due to the great competitive game of basketball and the amazing moments we get to enjoy all throughout the playoffs. I encourage any basketball fan to tune in for these games and I promise you will not be disappointed with any of the games.

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