2017 NBA Finals Preview (Screenplay Edition)

What do you think of the term “Trilogy?” I keep hearing NBA media folks refer to this Finals as the Warriors-Cavs “Trilogy.”

As if people don’t realize this is real life, not the third movie in a franchise. I’ve also heard NBA writers debate whether or not this is good for the NBA, having two teams who seem to live on a higher plane than the rest of the Association. Personally, the thing we crave most as NBA fans is drama. The tense moments that bring out the best/worst in players. Outside of Celtics-Wizards, and Game 1 of Warriors-Spurs, we haven’t had much drama. Few close games. Fewer upsets.

But we’ve made it. The Finals have arrived. Trilogy or not. Since everyone seems to want a screenplay, and a movie franchise, here’s my version.

If this were scripted, here’s how it might go:

Game 1

The Cavs blow out the Warriors in Oakland. Kevin Love hits 9 threes. Draymond starts yelling at Durant in the third quarter about ball movement. During a third quarter time-out, Mike Brown tosses his clipboard to the ground in frustration.

Cavs, 120–103. (Cavs lead series 1–0)

Game 2

The Warriors trail most of the game, but Steph and Klay rain 30-footers during a ridiculous 20–3 fourth quarter run, pushing the game to overtime. Warriors cap the comeback on last-second corner three….from Ian Clark, who freezes with his wrist bent in a follow-through as his teammates circle around him, jumping up and down. JaVale McGee carries Clark from the court, in a celebratory dance.

Warriors, 121–119 (OT). (Series tied at 1)

Game 3

Double overtime. LeBron puts up 35/12/12. Durant doesn’t miss a shot until overtime. Kyrie Irving, who’s been quiet for most of the first two games, scores 12 straight in second OT, as Cavs take 2–1 lead. Kyrie keeps a straight face during the entire stretch. As the buzzer sounds, Draymond, grappling for a rebound on the court, pounds his fists in frustration, screaming, “Never again!”

Cavs 132–128 (2 OT). (Cavs lead series, 2–1)

Game 4

LeBron attacks the rim relentlessly, the rim is all crooked by the 6:00 mark of the second quarter. LeBron has 25 at halftime. In the third quarter, LeBron tries to goad Draymond into another testicle punch, but Draymond just lays on the court, laughing, covering his own testicles for some reason. For the next six minutes, Draymond blocks shots, deflects passes, dishes to Steph and Durant, and generally takes over the game. Warriors win on last second steal and breakaway dunk…from the ageless Andre Iguodala. After the dunk, Iguodala grimaces, holding his lower back. Iguodala limps off court.

Warriors,108–106. (Series tied at 2)

Game 5

A three-point Festivus for the rest of us. Both teams make 20 three-pointers, setting playoff records. End of regulation, Warriors up 128–125. LeBron finds Korver in the corner. Tie game. Overtime. LeBron and Durant go back and forth, attacking the rim, getting to the line. Zaza and Durant foul out. JaVale McGee gets all the overtime minutes, and can be seen scraping the top of the backboard, throwing down lob dunks from Steph. On the other end, with seconds remaining, McGee stuffs LeBron at the rim.

Warriors, 140–138. (Warriors lead series 3–2)

Game 6

Kyrie chooses the second quarter to unleash an avalanche on Golden State, spinning lay-ups from all angles and dropping in pull-up threes, duplicating his 42-point playoff-career high vs Boston. LeBron’s defense smothers Durant. Steph and Kyrie go back and forth, but Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding, and a few timely corner threes from Korver and Smith keep the Warriors from completing the fourth quarter comeback.

Cavs,118–113. Series tied at 3.

Game 7

Back and forth, neither team can take control. Refs letting both teams maul each other. Steph and Kyrie can’t get any openings. Klay Thompson, who has been relegated to an afterthought since Game 3, goes into one of his zones. Draymond keeps finding Klay in transition. The Warriors gradually pull away and take a 12-point lead heading into the fourth. LeBron looks like a man possessed. Having played every minute of Game 7, he summons extra reserves, and slashes into the paint, absorbing contact, not getting calls, and manages to finish drive after drive. Clearly, LeBron is running low on steam, but Love can’t get open, and Kyrie is denied relentlessly by Livingston. With less than 2:00 remaining, and the Warriors up 4, the Cavs change up their strategy and start trapping Steph at the top of the key. Durant gets three wide-open looks…and misses them all. On the other end, LeBron gets fouled…and misses both free-throws…on two separate trips to the line. Warriors up 3 with 30 seconds left. Cavs force Golden State into a 24-second clock violation. Cleveland has possession with the shot clock off. LeBron holds the ball at the top of the key, harassed by Iguodala. LeBron drives, passes cross-court to Korver, barely keeping his feet inbounds. Swish. Tie game, with 2 seconds remaining. Warriors call timeout, move the ball to half-court. Iguodala inbounds to Curry at half-court. Pump-fakes, then heaves it up as time expires. Fouled by none other than J.R. Smith. (Yes, this season will be determined by the most annoying play in the NBA, the three-point foul call). With a tie game and no time left on the clock, Curry misses the first foul shot…adding to the drama. Curry somehow bricks the second free-throw off the back rim. Final free-throw. Swish.

Warriors, 128–127. (Golden State wins series 4–3)

Realistic Fears

Instead, I’m afraid half of the games will be blowouts. So many three-pointers lead to wild scoring binges and streaks. With all the hype leading up to this point, it seems impossible that we’ll get a genuinely dramatic series, filled with last-second shots and unexpected heroes. Our expectations are unrealistic, and, if we’ve watched the last two months of the playoffs (and then waited a week between nearly every playoff round) our frustration has grown to great.

Still…we’ll get some drama. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Let’s just hope it goes 7. Ok…6. Let’s hope it goes 6. Ok…5. Let’s hope it goes 5…and we get three close games. Is that too much to ask?

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