"The Cavaliers are looking to take a home field advantage for Game 3, but they won't be the favorites to win it. Right now, their current online sportsbook odds stand at +3½, which is very rare to see. Then again, they're facing a Golden State team that is much stronger compared to last year's NBA Finals. The Warriors have covered the spread without difficulties and probably will do so again in Cleveland. I wouldn't bet against them if I were you." -- line director David Strauss
“I’m averaging a triple-double in the NBA finals. I’m pretty good, I would think.”
That was LeBron James’ answer Wednesday when he was asked if fatigue was becoming a factor late in games. Unfortunately for James, his assessment of his play as “pretty good” is accurate, because if he wants to stage another historic comeback and capture his fourth NBA title, he’s going to have to a hell of a lot more than be pretty good.
“Pretty good” simply isn’t going to cut it against these Warriors. It’s not even going to come close. As a matter-of-fact, “pretty good” is more than likely going to get LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers swept right out of these NBA Finals.
Frankly, for King James to pull this off he’s going to have to do more than play the greatest basketball of his career, or even play the greatest basketball of all-time for that matter. And as unfair as that seems to ask of someone, it’s not.
It's not realistic to expect LeBron to do more on the floor than he already is, he simply can't average 40-20-15. What he's going to have to do more of is use his mind. His "beautiful mind" if you will. LeBron is going to have to do more than just be the best player on the floor. He's going to also have to be the best coach, strategist, and the best in-game adjuster.
Willing himself to a level above his peers is nothing new to King James. But this year, against these Warriors, that alone won't be enough. He will have to do more. He will have to will this entire team to a level they've never reached before.
Remember the cliché “to be the best, you have to beat the best”? Well, for LeBron that statement should be amended to say “to be the best, you have to beat the best, while playing the best” and because LeBron can’t go back in time and defeat MJ and the Bulls, this is what’s required of him to supplant Jordan as the GOAT.
Everyone knows James is the heir-apparent, or the “air-apparent”, as it would be, to “His Airness”. There have been many before who could have been “the next Michael Jordan”, but where they all came up short, LeBron may not.
He has an opportunity, right here, right now, to make the most compelling case he’s ever made that he is the greatest to ever play, and it shouldn’t be easy. Thank God it isn’t easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t mean this much.
Does this mean that if he and the Cavs lose these finals that he is out of the running to catch MJ? Of course not. LeBron could have four, five, maybe even six elite years left in his career. He could still catch Jordan in the heart of basketball fans, but it would have to wait.
Never again will LeBron have the chance to thwart the “super-team” in their first attempt at a championship. While Warrior-fatigue is already setting in across the country, by the time next year rolls around and we are gearing up for Cavs-Warriors, Episode IV, everyone and their dog will be cheering for LeBron.
This year is his chance. His chance to cement what happened last year as more than just an epic comeback, or an all-time collapse but instead have it viewed as the proclamation that King James would not be denied these two titles. That try as you might, and assemble who you wish, but all of your efforts will fall short, for this is the time of LeBron James and no one will prevail but he and his team. It’s all right there in front of him. He can grab it, and make it a reality, but if he wants it – he has to do more.
Game Odds: Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 3
- Golden State Warriors -3½-115
- Cleveland Cavaliers +3½-105
- 226½ O-110 / U-110
- Golden State Warriors -165
Cleveland Cavaliers +140
A writer and politican of all things college football and college basketball from Boise State to UCA and beyond.