CLEVELAND — A long, long time ago Indiana Jones was always griping about snakes.
Snakes. Why did it always have to be snakes?
After Friday night’s loss in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Warriors fans know the same feeling all too well after missing out on a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As in, 3-1, why did it have to be a 3-1 series lead?
On the verge of being spared from reliving the torment that was the 2016 NBA Finals, the Warriors failed to close out the annual showdown with LeBron James in tidy fashion. Instead, they had their doors blown off as the Cavaliers rolled to a 137-116 victory in front of a raucous crowd.
The Warriors still have three more chances to complete their championship quest against the Cavaliers, including two at Oracle Arena.
But make no mistake — Warriors fans wanted this one over and they wanted it now.
They wanted to avoid what comes with this loss, the nonstop razzing associated with the possibility of blowing yet another 3-1 series lead.
Instead, they’ll be subjected to three days’ worth of internet memes, jokes and GIFs about how the 2016 team collapsed and blew a 3-1 lead despite the presence of unanimous MVP Steph Curry.
Oh, the horror.
Look, this isn’t the same scenario as last June.
It’s not even close.
Curry clearly wasn’t himself last postseason after he suffered an MCL sprain in Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. After a four-game absence, Curry returned to the court. But he never appeared to have the same explosiveness the rest of the way and it was never more evident than in the final minutes of their back-breaking Game 7 loss to the Cavs. Curry is the antithesis of that guy this postseason as he’s slicing and dicing his way across the court once again, leaving opponents in his wake.
Then there’s the little matter of Kevin Durant playing in the same role previously held by Harrison Barnes. This is the very reason Durant spurned Oklahoma City last offseason and joined the Warriors, to offer an-already outstanding offense yet another unstoppable force and putting the final piece for a dynasty in place.
Durant has already proven to be the kind of difference-maker in the series that Barnes wasn’t ready to be in 2016. The 2013-14 MVP did irreparable damage to the Cavaliers’ chances in the final two minutes of the Warriors’ stunning Game 3 comeback victory on Wednesday night. Unlike Barnes, who was allowed to shoot from the outside at will during the 2016 NBA Finals, Durant requires a minimum of one defender in his face at all times. He gives the Warriors an overwhelming additional boost they need and they’ve responded so far with one of the most dominant postseason performances of all time. The Warriors have looked unstoppable throughout the playoffs aside from being dominated by San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard in the first half of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
But that’s where this all bogs down.
Until Friday, the Warriors were on the verge of becoming the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in the postseason. Fans had yet to experience any emotion except for the joyful bliss of victory.
Adversity has been scarce.
And now it has come hissing back in the worst possible way.
The Cavs brought an intensity unlike any they’d put forth in the series so far but eerily reminiscent of last year’s comeback. They made an NBA Finals-record 24 3-pointers and got 71 combined points from Kyrie Irving (40 points) and James.
If that weren’t enough, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green looked out of sorts in a disjointed game marred by foul calls.
The trio combined for 43 points on 14-of-40 shooting.
Sure, no NBA team that has ever faced a 3-0 deficit in the Finals has come back to win the series. But this is almost exactly the same Cavs team that slithered its way back from a 3-1 deficit last year to stun everyone and send the Warriors home empty-handed.
Then came the clever memes. And the GIFs. And every terrible joke in the book.
Your friends reminded you every step of the way, kind of like falling into a snake pit.