What Happened to the Warriors? Cavs Win in Seven
June 20, 2016

It may be Believeland in Cleveland, but in northern California, it's Dismay by the Bay. The Golden State Warriors, up three games to one in a best-of-seven series with no team ever coming back from that deficit in the finals, lost.

What's going on? A sellout crowd was ready to celebrate a full week ago, but the Warriors lost game five. Probably everyone not in Ohio thought it was no big deal. If somehow the Cavs got a home win in game six, the Warriors would prevail in game seven. It just didn't happen.

It was a close game throughout. There were 11 ties and 20 lead changes, but in the fourth quarter, the wobbling Warriors could only muster 13 points in the period, and lost 93-89.

Stephen Curry had jmust 17 points. He only made 6 of 19 shots and 4-of-14 three-point attempts. Klay Thompson had 14 points on 6-of-17, and 2-of-10 from three-point land. That says a lot. Center Andre Iguodala couldn't start due to injury. He did play, but only scored 4 points, and was certainly no factor in stopping LeBron James. James had 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists—the third triple-double ever in Finals game seven (Jerry West, James Worthy).

But remember, this Warriors team was the best in league history in regular season. They were 73-9. They lost as many games at home to the Cavaliers in the finals as they did the entire regular season (two). They never lost two in a row during the regular year. They lost three straight in the Finals, something no team up 3-1 has ever done. They lost as many postseason games as they did the entire regular season (nine). They started the regular season 25-0. They didn't sweep a series in the playoffs.

So? What happened? Maybe they just ran out of gas. Maybe they depended too much on the three. Maybe Cleveland's defense was just too good. Up 3-1, maybe they just didn't buckle down and focus.

Speaking of focus, the national attention goes to a city that hadn't won a championship since before the advent of the Super Bowl. It was pointed out that LeBron James' mother wasn't even born yet when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts for the NFL title in 1964 (I was ten months old). The Cavaliers had never won a title in 45 years, and the last Cleveland Indians World Series Title was in 1948 (which was also the last time there was a full moon on the first day of summer, until today. Interesting huh?).

In Norcal, though, a lot of silence and disbelief the day after. A team the couldn't lose in the beginning, couldn't win in the end. It's not like they were trying to break some sort of drought, though, The Warriors won it all, just a year ago. They should be in pretty good shape when training camp opens for next year, which after a long season, seems like it will be in about a week.

Strretching it out: It's not enough that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead, but the whole NBA Finals experience was pretty exasperating (for some), and certainly lengthy. The entire series, just seven games, took 18 days! If you want a quick turnaround, though, the season isn't over quite yet. The NBA Draft is Thursday. The Lakers have the number two pick, and the Sacramento Kings select eighth.

More draft: There's actually some drama about the draft this year. The Lakers don't really have much homework to do. Philadelphia has the number one pick and will select either Duke's Brandon Ingram or LSU's Ben Simmons. The Lakers will take the other one.

Who's watching?: The ratings people say Sunday's game seven was the most watched NBA game since 1998 when Michael Jordan won his fourth championship. ESPN reports over 30 million viewers on ABC with LeBron and company celebrating on the Warriors' home floor.

More fun and games: ABC used the NBA Finals to promote the return of game shows. The $100,000 Dollar Pyramid and Match Game debut Sunday night. Instead of Dick Clark and Gene Rayburn, we get Michael Strahan (because he needs the work) and Alec Baldwin (because no one ever sees him enough). Let's see what the ratings people say about that.

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