All posts by ethan smith

Born and raised outside of D.C. I have lived as a heartbroken Redskins fan for many years. Sports make the world go ‘round and I personally can’t get enough of them. I also can’t get enough pizza or 80s actions films or remixes featuring Drake.

Read my takes on sports and disagree with them. Please.

Find more of my thoughts at:
threegoggles.wordpress.com
@3goggleblog
@eth_dougie

Give Jahlil a Break

When I was 19 years old, I was speeding. When I was 19 years old I got into my first (and only) street fight. Many of my friends can say the same, and many of their friends can, as well. Simply put, when you’re 19 years old, you tend to do some stupid shit sometimes. I’m not encouraging such behavior, I’m merely stating that it happens. It’s not the worst thing in the world and kids grow up and learn from their mistakes.

That’s why we need to cut Jahlil Okafor a little slack in light of his recent mishaps. To catch you up to speed, here’s what happened.  On Thanksgiving day, TMZ released a video of Okafor getting into a bit of a scuffle one Boston night.  According to a witness and two separate reports filed by the Philadelphia Police Department and U.S. Park Rangers, Okafor tried to punch a heckler after the man said the 76ers sucked, or something along those lines. The confrontation occurred at 2 am outside of Old City nightclub, so we can probably assume some drinking was involved. The gun makes it all a scary situation but not something you can fault Okafor for. Throwing the dumb punch that led to it, that’s all on Jahlil.

And now there are reports of Okafor being arrested in early November after clocking in at 108 mph on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, a bridge that has a speed limit of 45 mph. 2fast, 2furious, but not 2troubling. At the end of the day, this isn’t the first time, nor the last time we’ll see a professional athlete speeding. Certainly not the last time we’ll see a teenager speeding, either.

While Okafor’s behavior isn’t ideal, it’s not exactly a problem…yet. It’s troubling to a certain degree, no doubt, and the 76ers should definitely make some kind of an effort to get this under control. But maybe – just maybe – this is what you get when you stick a very good rookie on a team that expects him to lose every. time. he. plays. To go from winning a National Championship at Duke to cellar dwelling and trusting the system in Philly is quite the culture change.

Okafor never seemed thrilled about being a 76er, remember the jersey drop…

It’s hard to believe that after 5, or 10, or now 18 straight losses, that this kid feels any better about his situation.  And what seems to be forgotten is that he’s playing some really great basketball through it all. Through the first 18 games, Okafor is averaging 17.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 33 minutes. In other words, he leads all rookies in points and minutes, and is third in both blocks and rebounds behind Karl Anthony-Towns and Kristaps Porzingis (per Inside Hoops). There might be questions about him off the court, but come game time he’s been a bright spot on this 76ers team. There’s no debating that.

On Sunday (November 29th), Okafor took to Twitter to speak on everything that’s been popping up on the news this week. Read into it whatever you want, but at the end of the day, a 19 year old is going to make mistakes. A frustrated 19 year old is going to make mistakes. Here’s to less street fighting, less reckless driving, less scrutiny of a teenager, and more double-doubles in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

15 for 15: Predictions for the NBA Season

It is here, folks. It is back. The NBA season has officially begun. What a time to be alive.  Here are some predictions for the upcoming season.

  1. East will be better than last year, but not great.

It is no secret that the East has generally been a worse conference than the West for a little while now. Much worse. Since the 1998-1999 season, the Eastern Conference has finished with less wins than the West once. Last year the New Orleans Pelicans were the 8th seed in the West at 45-37 while the Celtics slid in the East playoffs with an 8th seed and a record of 38-44. The Cavs’ record of 53-29 got them 2nd in the East but would have been good for 7th in the West. All that said, the East will be a better conference this year, they won’t be the better conference, but the Cavs will win it all and they’re from the East so that has to count for something, right.

bron

  1. Neither the Spurs nor the Warriors will win the West…in the playoffs

Either the Spurs or the Warriors will get the 1 seed going into the playoffs. But I don’t think either of them will be repping the Western conference in the NBA finals. KD and Russ are too hungry for a title and both the Clippers and Rockets are loaded with talent. Hard to pick against a Golden State team that is virtually unchanged and a Spurs team that added LaMarcus Aldridge and David West but I am.

  1. Anthony Davis will win MVP

The guy is truly a freak of nature in the absolute best way imaginable. He is 22 and he is 6’10” and he can spread the floor and block anything that comes near the rim and has a unibrow and is on the cover of 2k kind of and he hit a 3 that directly affected his team’s/the Thunder’s playoff chances and he’s going to win the MVP.

  1. Lance Stephenson returns

If you didn’t miss Born Ready legend Lance Stephenson last year as he wilted away to nothing in Charlotte you probably don’t like fun things or laughing or making jokes. Lance Stephenson was the single most entertaining player in an Eastern conference finals two years ago that featured two of the league’s top 10 in Paul George and LeBron James. And even though Lance’s Pacers lost, memes live forever. Last year’s swift and complete decline was heartbreaking but now Lance is with Doc Rivers and lots of really good players instead of really bad players. His role will be a lot more like what it was in the good ol Pacer days. And he’s tweeting out old highlight reels. Oh man, Lance is back.

   

 

      1. EVERYONE will play stretch 4

 

  We are going to be talking about small ball a lot this season after the Warriors’ success and eventually it will probably get annoying after a while. Spacing! Spacing! Spacing!

6. John Wall will be the best pg in the East wiz The Western conference is the land of milk and honey when you’re talking about point guards but the East is no slouch there either. This year, John Wall takes the title of East’s best point man decisively. Beal has already touted DC’s backcourt as the best, so it is time these guys in Washington show us. Wall’s biggest issue last year was turnovers, but hopefully having to pay his coach for high turnover games will fix that problem. Gotta hit em where it hurts, the pockets. Kyrie, Lowry, Teague, Hill, and Gragic are all very good, but Shy Glizzy has written 0 songs about them so it’s really a no brainer.

 

      1. Kobe will last an entire season

 

  This is the hottest take on the list. kobe

8.  Philadelphia Fire At some point, people are going to stop trusting the system. The 76ers have been in a cycle of tanking, waiving players, trading players, and hoarding big men for some time now. SI already put the team on blast, I’m sure Joel Embiid has not stopped drinking Shirley Temples (stay strong, Joel!), and eventually this whole thing is going to get ugly before it gets better.  

 

 

      1. Bucks will get better

 

  The Milwaukee Bucks were surprisingly good last year. Statistically, they had the 4th best defensive rating in the league and were 8th in points against. And they did all of that with no real rim protector, which they hope to have fixed by getting Greg Monroe in free agency. The offense was not nearly as good but getting Jabari Parker back after losing him to an ACL tear last season will definitely help there. This team was no fluke last year, but I don’t see them getting anything higher than a 6 seed going into the playoffs.

 

      1. Mavs will implode

 

  When you get the biggest free agent in franchise history and then lose him in the most dramatic fashion in the history of free agency signings, your season is essentially doomed. With DeAndre Jordan, I really liked this team. Without him, I think they are a disaster. Deron Williams is not nearly the same player he was back in Utah, Wes Matthews is ?? x1000, Dirk Nowitzki is nearing the end, and Chandler Parsons is coming back from a major surgery. This has all the makings to be very, very, very bad and I truly wonder if it will affect Mark Cuban’s ability to make good decisions on Shark Tank.

 

      1. Clippers/Warriors will be must see TV

 

  From a basketball perspective, this is kind of a no brainer. Two great teams, with great coaches, playing in the same state. Oh, and they’ve been talking a lot of shit. These are going to be must watch games for the emotional drama if nothing else. These teams have lots of talent, but they also have lots of personality. Steph Curry is already embarrassing people on the court when it isn’t personal, Chris Paul should know all about that, and the Clippers are already generally hated around the league. California loooooooove.   12.  HEAT will be a top 4 team in the East   

 73   

Even though they missed the playoffs last year, the Miami HEAT will be a top 4 team in the East. Bosh played only 44 games all of last season while Goran Gragic only played 26 in a Miami jersey after being traded from Phoenix mid season. Get both of those guys for a full 82, add in Justice Winslow who they took with the 10th pick in the draft, Amar’e Stoudemire and Gerald Green (my 6th man dark horse) and this team is no slouch. According to Wade, Lebron knows they’re coming.

 

      1. Westbrook will lead the league in triple-doubles

 

  This is not a very hot take. Last season Westbrook had 11 triple-doubles. James Harden was second in the league with 4. Yes, that was a historic level of stunting on a nightly basis and a wonderful display of not giving a fuck and balling extra hard on everyone at all times as Russell Westbrook nearly forced the Thunder into the playoffs off sheer athleticism, but I think we’ll see a lot of the same again this year. Even with Durant on the floor.

 

      1. Draymond Green will continue providing sound bytes

 

  Man I hope I’m right about this one.

 

 

      1. Paul George will be full superstar in almost no time at all

 

  Even now, over a year later, I can still see the Paul George injury. When he went down Paul George was a top-10 player. Yes it was a gruesome injury and he missed an entire season but PG-13 will be full supernova superstar again this season. And it won’t take him long to get there. If the Pacers are going to get back to the playoffs, it will be because of him. Hibbert, West, Stephenson, and Granger are all gone. This is Paul George’s team now.  

 

 

Super Serena: Why Williams may be the BEST EVER

 

Serena Williams by mirsasha, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  mirsasha 


In 1999, a teenager with braids won her first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open. In 2015, that same woman won her 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. She is currently the reigning champ of each and every Grand Slam tournament, an unbelievable feat that has become synonymous with her name. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am talking about Serena Williams.

Serena’s recent Wimbledon victory over Muguruza- in consecutive sets- was her 21st Grand Slam title, one shy of tying Steffi Graff for most in the modern era and three behind Margaret Court for most all-time. Judging by how she dominated at Wimbledon, as well as the French Open and Australian Open earlier this year, it is very likely that we will see Serena pass both Graff and Court over the next few years. It is almost universally accepted that Williams is the greatest female tennis player of all time. But maybe it is time we start talking about Serena Williams as one of the most dominant athletes of our generation, if not ever.

Let’s look at the stats.  

  • Turned pro in 1995.
  • Won her first major in 1999.
  • Gained #1 ranking for the first time in 2002.
  • Has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open six times each, making her the only tennis player- male or female- to win at least six times in three of the four major tournaments.
  • The fourth major, the French Open, has named Serena its Champion three times.
  • Twice in her career she has simultaneously held the title for each major, a feat that is now called a “Serena Slam”.
  • She has won 21 majors in 16 years.
  • And an Olympic Gold medal.
  • Her total prize money- over 72.5 million- is most of any female tennis player, and fourth amongst all tennis players.

Maria Sharapova has arguably been the second best female tennis player during Serena’s career. She turned pro in 2001 and was ranked #1 in the world by 2005. Serena is 18-2 against Sharapova.

Serena has also dominated doubles; she and her sister Venus are a perfect 13-0 in Grand Slam finals and have won three Olympic Gold medals.

But what is most impressive is that Serena is playing some of her best and most impressive tennis right now. At 33. 20 years into her career. Instead of slowing down, Serena has aged like a fine wine, only getting better. Since January 1, Serena is 39-1. She has won each major in 2015, and may become only the second female tennis player ever to win all four majors in a single calendar year if she wins the US Open later this summer.

Since winning her first major in 1999, there have only been 5 years (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2011) in which Serena did not win at least one major. She’s the paradigm of consistent athletic dominance at the highest level.

 

Where else have we seen this?

Not men’s tennis. Roger Federer has won 17 major titles since turning pro in 1998, but 17 is not 21. And he has never had a “Serena Slam”. Neither has Sampras nor Nadal nor Agassi.

Baseball? The only type of prolonged success seems to come from pitchers or Derek Jeter. Nolan Ryan led the MLB in strikeouts eleven times between ‘72 and ‘90. Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young awards, his first in 1986 and his last one in 2004- but that could have more to do with alleged PED usage than pure ability. And Jeter was an All-Star in fourteen of his final sixteen seasons. Consistently excellent, yes. But dominant over their competition like Serena has been? Not quite.

Football careers almost never last long enough to see players dominate a league for as long as Serena has dominated the court. Montana, Elway, Brady, and Manning have all enjoyed lengthy careers at the top. But none of these QBs have won more than four Lombardi trophies.

Since FIFA started naming a World Player of the Year in 1991, Brazil’s Ronaldo and France’s Zinedine Zidane (remember the headbutt?!) have each won the award three times, tied for most. I am almost certain Serena would have won tennis’s World Player of the Year (if there was such a thing) much more than three times already.

Michael Phelps was probably the world’s most greatest athlete from 2006 through 2012. In the swimming world, he was (and still very much is) a deity. But his superiority in the water was only unquestioned for six years tops. There is already a new crop of swimmers ruling the waters, poised to be ‘the next Phelps’. His sheer dominance certainly matches Serena’s, but it is the longevity that he lacks. Serena has been doing it for over a decade, Phelps lasted about half that time.

The closest comparisons are found on a different court. Not the tennis court, but the basketball court. If any ballers can compare to Serena, its MJ or Bill Russell. Russell won eleven rings in thirteen years. Not quite the breadth of Serena’s reign, but those numbers speak for themself. And MJ, the unquestioned GOAT who led the Bulls to two separate three-peats, deserves all the praise. But seventeen years after he was drafted, Jordan was losing to father time in a Wizards jersey. Serena hasn’t had a Wizards period.

And then there’s Tiger. Who took over golf and sat at the top, untouched by the competition, for over a decade. But his legacy will surely come with an asterisk, murmurs of infidelity, and golf clubs through car windows. It is hard to find a quicker and harder fall from the top than Tiger’s. Not many people mention Woods as one of today’s best golfers. And rightfully so.

In the world of sports, nobody wins as often as Serena does or for as long as Serena has. Nobody. The ‘greatest athlete of all time’ conversation has always been a boy’s club, and it is hard to argue that Serena’s exclusion from most of these talks has nothing to do with her gender. Or her race for that matter.  But next time you mention Jordan, Jeter, or Gretzky, don’t forget Serena. The record books sure won’t.

 

Braves Pay Homage to Lil B, Avoid Curse

The Cubs have the Curse of the Billy goat, the Red Sox had the Curse of Bambino (broken in 2004), the Giants had the Curse of Coogan’s Bluff (broken in 2010), and the Braves almost, almost, became victims of the BasedGod Curse.

It happened on July 3rd during a game against the Phillies. Bottom of the second. One out. Johhny Gomes blasts a solo shot. The Braves lead 1-0. And Cameron Maybin starts cooking. Has he not heard? Does he not know?! That is Lil B’s dance! Since that day, fans have waited with bated breath to hear the response from Lil B, the world’s most influential rapper/motivator/blouse wearing sage.

First Kevin Durant fell victim to the curse, costing him a trip to the NBA Finals in 2014 and a trip to the playoffs in 2015. Then James Harden angered the Based God, and soon he and the Houston Rockets were knocked from the NBA playoffs. The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a scare before the  2015 NBA Finals, and Lil B’s support of the Golden State Warriors may or may not have helped them win the title of NBA champs this season. Long story short, the curse is real. It is very real.
Fearful of the curse crossing from basketball to baseball, Atlanta had no choice but to offer praise and respect for Lil B and his dance. It had been days, three days exactly, but that can feel like a lifetime when waiting to hear about the future of your franchise from the Based God, himself.

Luckily for everyone involved, Lil B accepted this show of respect. The Braves have won 5 of their last 6 and are now only one game under .500, putting them just 1.5 games behind the Mets for second in the NL East. Let’s see if they keep cooking.

US Beats Colombia, Will Meet China in Quarterfinals

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. The US defeated Colombia in Monday’s game by a score of 2-0, advancing them past the round of 16 and into the quarterfinals. Their next game will be against China on Friday, June 26. While China is no Germany or Japan, they obviously have some talent and could be a tough test against a struggling US offense that will be without two starters, Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday. Also, there’s some history here. This will be the first time the US faces China in the Women’s World Cup since beating China to win it all in 1999. Remember that one?

Maybe this will help…

Leading into their game against the US, Colombian players took some shots at the Americans. “They belittle us…We’re going to beat them since they like to talk so much,” said Colombian midfielder Lady Andrade. Yoreli Rincon added “they don’t have the heart we Colombians have.” SHOTS FIRED. The beef goes back to the 2012 Olympics when Lady Andrade hit Abby Wambach with a punch to the eye. The US went on to win that game 3-0. Two years later, the tension is still there. The US, on the other hand, stayed relatively quiet.

But for all the talking Colombia did, it looked as though The US would jump out to an early lead. In the third minute, Wambach scored…but was called offsides. Besides that, the US offense was lackluster, a problem that has not seemed to solve itself through the first four games of the tournament. And although Colombia never truly threatened the US defense in the first half, they did control the pace of the game.

While quality scoring chances were hard to come by in the first half, cards were not. Lauren Holiday got a yellow card in the 17th minute, her second of the tournament. She will miss the next game against China. In the 41st minute, Megan Rapinoe got her second yellow over the past four games. She will miss the China game, as well. At the end of the half it was still 0-0 and things didn’t look great for the US.

In the second half, the US women got some much needed help. Rapinoe played a ball into space for Alex Morgan and it looked like Morgan would have an open and uncontested shot at the goal. But Colombian keeper Catalina Perez came out and tried to make a play on the ball. Instead she got Morgan’s leg and a red card.

Colombia would have to play with a woman down for nearly the entire second half, while their starting keeper sat in the locker room. And with Wambach poised to take the penalty kick, it looked as though the USWNT would take their lead. But Wambach missed. She missed wide left.

The game was still 0-0.

Morgan would eventually find the back of the net in the 53rd minute to put the US up 1-0.

Thirteen minutes later, Megan Rapinoe got fouled making a run into the box, setting up the Americans’ second pk of the game. Carli Lloyd buried it and the US was up 2-0 with 24 minutes left. The US would go on to win, advancing to the round of 8 and knocking Colombia out of the tournament. It was a win, but it was far from impressive. The US has a number of issues to address before their game against China.

On one hand, the American women can feel somewhat confident going up against China. In their last 24 games playing China, spanning back to 2003, the US is 20-0-4. But the US will be without Rapinoe and Holiday. While Holiday has not been spectacular so far, she is still a solid starter and has played the majority of the minutes in the first four games. Replacing her won’t be simple. Rapinoe, on the other hand, has been one of the best offensive weapons for the US. She scored two of the three goals in their win against Australia. She delivered the corner that Wambach put past the keeper for their only goal in the win over Nigeria. And her pass to Morgan set up their first pk opportunity in the win against Colombia. She’s been instrumental in a struggling offense. It’s unsure whether coach Jill Ellis will stick with the 4-4-2 lineup she has been using, or mix things up to better suit the skills of those replacing Rapinoe and Holiday.

One thing is for sure, though. The United States will need another great defensive performance if they expect to win and advance to the semi-finals. Their one goal allowed is tied for best in the tournament. Against Colombia, they only allowed two shots on goal. TWO. Hope Solo leads the World Cup in saves and has posted clean sheets in three out of four games. While the offense has struggled, the defense has shined.

 

 

USWNT Survive Group of Death, Advance in Women’s World Cup

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Before their game against Nigeria, the USWNT sat atop the Group of Death and were in control of their own destiny. A tie would ensure they moved on to the round of 16, a win would help them win the group. But in order to get a win, they needed to score goals. That is kind of the whole point of the game. Goals have been hard to come by for the USWNT, recently. Although they scored three goals against Australia in the first game of group play, the US women had been held scoreless in 5 of their past 13 games, including their 0-0 tie against Sweden in the last game. Wambach went as far as to suggest that the turf fields being used during the World Cup was the problem. “For me, I definitely think that the U.S. has more goals if we’re playing on grass,” said Wambach after the game against Sweden.

To try and remedy their offensive woes, coach Jill Ellis inserted Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan into the starting lineup to run up top, and Tobin Heath at outside midfield. The changes were noticed immediately as Wambach played a great header to Morgan early, although she couldn’t quite get her foot on it for the goal. A few minutes later, Wambach  headed the ball over to Julie Johnston who easily knocked in what  looked like the game’s first…until she was called offsides.

And then it came. Right before the end of the half- in the game’s 45th minute- Megan Rapinoe sent a corner kick to the front of the goal. Naturally, Abby Wambach flew through the air to get her foot on the ball, her first goal of the Cup, and a lead for the US going into the half.

The second half started with more of the same for the US. Morgan made some quality runs and got chances, but was unable to convert any of them before she was subbed out for Sydney Leroux in the 65th minute. Leroux soon got tangled up with Nigeria’s Sarah Nndoim. Consequently, Nndoim would get her second yellow card of the game, forcing the Nigerians to play with only 10 players on the field for the rest of the game. With the player-advantage, Ellis brought on Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone to bolster the Americans’ already stout defensive play.

Wambach’s goal in the 45th minute proved to be enough as the USWNT defeated Nigeria 1-0, won the Group of Death, and advanced to the round of 16. Wambach’s goal was the 14th Women’s World Cup goal of her career, tied for second in Women’s World Cup history. The US defense continued to stand out, shutting down a speedy Nigerian attack. Through the three games of group play, the US defense only gave up one goal (v Australia). Hope Solo’s second consecutive clean sheet gives her seven in World Cup play, tying her for second all-time.

The American women have secured their spot in the next round, but are still unsure who their first opponent will be. Look for more of Wambach and Morgan starting together up top after their strong performance against Nigeria. Their next game is scheduled for Monday, June 22. 

Dynasty: Blackhawks beat Lightning, win Stanley Cup

 

Corey Crawford and Andrew Shaw by howsmyliving, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  howsmyliving 


Last night, history was made on the ice at United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in game 6 to win the series 4-2, their third Stanley Cup since 2010. Yes, folks. A dynasty has been born. Over the past six seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have been to the Stanley Cup finals 3 times. Over the past six seasons, the Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup finals 3 times. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 3 for 3. That’s pretty good.

After splitting games in Tampa Bay to start the series, the Blackhawks lost on home ice and Tampa Bay led the series 2-1. But lightning never struck the next two games and the Blackhawks soon led 3-2 with a chance to end the series and win the Cup at home for the first time since 1938.

From the very start, it just felt like Chicago’s night. The fans were ready, nearly drowning out the National Anthem with what sounded more like battle cries than cheers. “We want the cup!” echoed throughout the arena. And the guys on the ice definitely did, too. The first period was a blur of scoring chances with each team seeing pucks hit posts and slide past open nets. But no goals. At the end of 1 it was 0-0, but the Blackhawks outshot the Lightning 13-4.

The second period started and the Lightning came out hot and looking to score. Within in the first minute of the period, Steven Stamkos- Tampa Bay’s most dangerous goal scorer- had an open breakaway and a chance to take the lead, but Corey Crawford came up with a huge save. The score remained tied at 0. Still, Tampa Bay seemed in control, dominating possession and keeping the puck below Chicago’s blue line. But Chicago wasn’t on the verge of another Stanley Cup for no reason. And with 2:47 left in the second period, veteran defenseman Duncan Keith put his own rebound over Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop’s glove. The sirens went off. The scoring had begun. The Blackhawks were that much closer to victory. At the end of 2, Chicago led 1-0.

Even with a lead in the third period, the Blackhawks weren’t exactly safe. Stamkos or Callahan or Filppula or Palat could put the puck in the net at any time for the Lightning. Chicago needed another goal. With just over five minutes left in the game, Brandon Saad led an odd man rush for Chicago. Saad to Richards, Richards to Kane. Goal. It seems only fitting that Patrick Kane, one of the core guys throughout Chicago’s quest for a dynasty and the 2010 Conn Smythe winner, scored the game clinching goal. The 2-0 lead was the first time either team had been ahead by two goals during the series, and a two goal lead would be enough. At the end of the third period, the Chicago Blackhawks were Stanley Cup champions.

Corey Crawford posted the first shutout of the Stanley Cup finals by either goaltender, making a total of 25 saves. Duncan Keith was awarded the 2015 Conn Smyhte trophy. His 18 playoff assists set a franchise record for assists by a defenseman in the postseason. All three of his postseason goals were game winners.

2015 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner: Chicago by Ron Cogswell, on FlickrCreative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licenseby  Ron Cogswell 


 

White Lies and Small Guys: How the Warriors won Game 4

 

After game 3, the Finals looked more like LeBron’s personal record-breaking campaign than anything else. The Warriors looked lost and helpless against the world’s greatest player and Cleveland’s physical defense. But then game 4 happened and the Warriors once again looked like the havoc-wreaking, pedal to the floor basketball team we saw all year.

Tempo, Tempo, Tempo:

Throughout the first three games of the series, the Cavs had controlled the tempo. They slowed down the league’s fastest team and LeBron had his way with the league’s best defense. But then again, LeBron tends to do that with any defense. More impressive was Cleveland’s defense, which held the league’s highest scoring offense to under 100 points during regulation in each of the first three games.

In game 4, those things did not happen. Instead, Golden State pushed the tempo on an undermanned and overworked Cavs team. The Warriors turned a basketball game into a mini track meet, pulling down rebounds and sprinting up the court for fast break dunks and corner threes.  The Cavs simply could not keep up, and once you let the Warriors jump out to a lead they don’t lose. Literally. They’re 57-0 this season (including playoffs) when they lead by 15 or more. Injuries to Love and Irving have forced more minutes out of role players.  Dudes are gassed. It showed last night.

White Lies:

Although Steve Kerr said there would be no changes to the starting lineup in game 4, there were.  “If I tell the truth, it’s the equivalent of me knocking on David Blatt’s door and saying ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do.’ So I lied,” was all Kerr really had to say about it. So the Warriors went small and put the 6’7” Green at the 5 and Iguodala at 4. It was Iggy’s first start of the season and he didn’t disappoint, scoring a season high 22 points on 4 of 9 from three with 8 rebounds. Green finally looked like a better version of himself after a couple off games; more buckets and less chirping. And after seeing a lot of bench during the playoffs, David Lee has been contributing big minutes in the last two games. On the flip side, Festus Ezeli sat and Bogut only got 2 minutes last night.

Cavs gotta go low:

The smaller lineup had been great for Golden State all season and it is what helped them establish and keep tempo in Game 4. But it also hurts their ability to bang with the big boys down low. Mozgov and Thompson had no problems dominating the post when Golden State went small. Mozgov led all scorers with 28 points (a career high for him) and also added 10 rebounds. Thompson grabbed 13 boards and added 12 points. When both your big men get double-doubles, that ain’t bad. And the Cavs will need more of that to win the series. With Love and Irving out, the Cavs lost their two biggest scoring threats behind the King. Although the Delly was open for business and cooking something mean in game 3, he can’t be always be relied on for offense. Last night Dellavedova was 3-14. JR Smith is just as streaky as ever, going 2-12 in game 4. If the guard play can’t be consistent, then the Cavs have to go down low.  It’s only game 4 and LeBron looks tired, understandably. He probably can’t do this all on his own, but if anyone can it is King James.