Dribbles: Can LeBron save the Cavs one final time?
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles on Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and visiting Warriors on Tuesday:
1. The buzz is gone. I type that as I sit inside Quicken Loans Arena. Outside, most everything is quiet. And there were supposedly still some resale tickets remaining four hour before the biggest game in Cavs' franchise history.
2. But that is what happens when you lose two straight, and look pretty pooped doing it. Since going down by 20 points in Game 3, the Warriors have looked practically unbeatable. And the Cavs haven't looked awful. They've just looked like they no longer have enough to win. They look exhausted and overmatched. No surprise there, as the Cavs basically are indeed both of those things.
3. I haven't met a fan or media member who predicts the Cavs to win another game. That would be bad for the Cavs, since they trail the best-of-seven Finals by a 3-2 count. "It's over," said one national writer right before I appeared on a Memphis radio station Tuesday. Unfortunately, the undermanned Cavs have offered little reason to argue.
4. In the first 11 quarters/overtime periods, the Cavs held the Warriors to 40 percent shooting and 24 percent on 3-pointers. In the nine quarters since, the Warriors have improved to 48 percent shooting and a sizzling 44 percent on threes.
5. It gets worse. In the first 11 quarters/overtimes, the Cavs outscored the Warriors by 11. In the nine quarters since, the Cavs have been outscored by 46. The Cavs have also won just one of those last nine quarters.
6. Read: The Cavs haven't been all that great since taking a 2-1 series lead.
7. Have I made you feel bad enough yet? If so, you can always read my column from earlier today. It says that history is working against the Cavs, but not necessarily against LeBron James. Check it out here.
8. I'm sure I'll be writing more about this when the season ends, no matter what happens: But what a ride it's been. Hard to believe this is the last home game of the season. Hard to believe the Cavs are still around after a 19-20 start and losing Kevin Love for most of the playoffs and Kyrie Irving for the Finals.
9. So, do I think it's over? Nope. Not as long as LeBron James is in uniform. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
10. Despite all the negativity, the Cavs only need to do what they did in the first three games and for most of Game 5. They need to give themselves a chance. It's really that simple. As LeBron told you after Game 5, he truly is the best player in the world. The NBA has always been a superstar-driven league, and James is the best of the bunch. Without Irving, without Love, that is the Cavs' greatest hope -- that James has been down this road, and he can share his knowledge with the younger guys on the team.
11. Of course, it will also help if he can score 40.
12. Other than that, the Cavs need another unknown force to emerge. It will really help if it's J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert. In this small-ball of a series, the Cavs could certainly afford to get some consistency from the perimeter.
13. A lot has been made of whether LeBron James can be Finals MVP on a losing team. Well, of course he can if the award goes to the best individual in the Finals. James fits that descrption best and it's not even close. But if "MVP" means the best player on the winning team, and the Cavs lose, and James doesn't get it ... well, maybe we should just start calling it "The Best Player On The Winning Team Award."
14. Personally, I've never cared about stuff like MVPs, Sixth Man of the Year, etc. I know it's important to most of the fans, though, so I'm not trying to downplay it. All I know is LeBron has said he doesn't want the Finals MVP if the Cavs don't win the title. And all I know is if the Cavs do somehow come back and win, LeBron should replace Jerry West as the NBA logo.
15. Finally, the Cavs have been counted out all season. From their 19-20 start to LeBron supposedly "losing a step" to all the rumors surrounding Love and coach David Blatt. Everytime, LeBron has helped his team overcome it all. This truly is, as he likes to call it, his greatest challenge.