And now, to sound like every six-year-old in history, “When is Christmas?”
Well, Christmas is still June 1, as it has been seemingly since this NBA season started. It is the day The Finals begin, and it still looks the same way – like Dubs-Cavs 3: The Reckoning.
Golden State did Monday as Cleveland did Sunday – sweep its second consecutive pretender to the throne, in this case the Utah Jazz, 121-95. The game was nail-bitey only because Utah did not lie down and humbly accept its evisceration after a miserable start, which is pretty much how the series played out. Utah won far more admiration for its obstinacy than a team that led for only 11 minutes in an entire series, but obstinacy alone isn’t enough.
Ask any Memphis Grizzly.
The Warriors and Cavaliers are the second pair of teams to win their first two series in sweeps in the same year since Detroit (Boston and Milwaukee) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Portland and Seattle) in 1989. In fact, the Lakers swept their next series as well, against Phoenix, before getting swept by the Pistons, so there’s your momentum lecture right there.
Beyond that, there was nothing particularly unusual about the Warriors’ eighth consecutive playoff victory. Chastened by their mildly irksome performance in Game 3 of this now-extinguished Western Conference semifinal, they grabbed a quick lead, widened it and by the end of the first quarter made it so large that the Jazz could not alter their fate no matter how hard they tried.
In other words, they came, they saw, they took a knee. As expected. As the Portlands did before them.
And now the Warriors wait again, perhaps as many as nine more days if Houston and San Antonio take each other to seven games as the Jazz did with the Los Angeles Clippers.
That’s a game every four days for more than a month, and if you use the R-word (rust), you’re probably just an inevitability denier. And no, one should not infer from that last phrase that I believe Dubs-Cavs 3.0 is inevitable. I do infer that it is the only Final anyone outside the tight NBA circle will accept.
The box score Monday night explains anything you needed explaining from Saturday night. Stephen Curry became the night’s Kevin Durant just as Durant because Saturday’s Curry. Draymond Green did the things Draymond Green (17/10/11 in 35 minutes) does better than anyone else, and the Warriors simply eroded Utah’s will to stay alive. For the series, the Jazz held the lead for 11 minutes (plus 10 seconds; let’s not cheat the lads) in Game 3, and those 11 minutes are the only minutes the Warriors have trailed in the last five games.
That statistic is really useful as soon as the NBA goes to a lap money system. Until then, the task for the nation is to accept that these playoffs have been a triumph of the undercards while the two acknowledged heavyweights plow through their tasks with sub-optimal resistance. Utah won hearts and minds but lost every game by double digits; Golden State has won seven of their eight games by 10 or more. In the meantime, Indiana gave Cleveland the hardest time mathematically speaking of any series loser,
Being swept by a total of 14 points.
And what that means as the nation awaits the two conference finals is . . . nothing, really. Golden State measures itself by Cleveland and Cleveland by Golden State, and history measures them against each other. After all, they have both won exactly as many championships as the Seattle SuperSonics, Rochester Royals, Syracuse Nationals and St. Louis Hawks, just to name four defunct franchises, but they are acknowledged as the titans in a land of average-sized folks.
That is, unless we have lost sight of the fact that Houston and Boston and San Antonio and Washington are better than Toronto and Utah, and better than Indiana and Portland. And that the only team to win three consecutive series by sweeps and that no parade route shall be booked before its time. The winner will be remembered for the last seven games more than the first eight, and the loser will be chastened to learn that the team they fell to is a frightful machine.
If that’s your idea of a good time, and you won’t know that until the middle of June. Someone’s patience will be rewarded, but for now, resistance seems to be futile. Ad Christmas isn't even here yet.