How to Snatch Defeat from Victory’s Jaws: The Cleveland Edition

William MurphyBasketball1 Comment

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I told you “the answers were not on this test”. Outside of Brad Daugherty, Hot Rod Williams, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, Larry Nance, and Gerald Wilkins coming back in their primes to assist, there really wasn’t/isn’t much that Cleveland could do. Remember earlier in the year when Bogut and Deron Williams were signed? I remember hearing someone saying that the balance of power had shifted. We all locked in for World War III…even though Bogut was injured before he could get out of his warmups.

Deron Williams? Looks like he’s 76, started spraying his hair on (a la Carlos Boozer), and can’t hit a shot in Lake Akron. (I don’t even think there’s a Lake Akron, but you get my point.)

Richard Jefferson? Actually is 76…and they want him to primarily defend KD when he is in the game. SMH…you know, we really have to do a better job of taking care of our elderly.

Kyle Korver? Oh…I actually thought that was Ashton Kutcher “punking” us all since he couldn’t hit a shot in the fictional Lake Akron either.

Shump? He is what he is at this point. Unfortunately for Cleveland, he isn’t pre-injury New York Knick Shump. (By the way, that version of Shump had a ceiling of Jimmy Butler.)

Channing Frye? Last seen 1 month ago. If you have any information regarding his whereabouts, please contact local Cleveland authorities. He is not armed, nor is he dangerous.

Tristan Thompson? Who’s that?

There were several times during that game that I remember thinking, “Man, Cleveland is playing with higher energy. Man, LBJ and Kyrie are playing out of their minds. Man, the home cooking is going into effect as it should. Man, Golden State looks sloppy…Man, Cleveland is still down.”

It’s kind of like cutting a football field of wet grass with a push mower. You’re working. Matter of fact, you’re double working, but you have very little to show. I’m not about to relive all of Game 3, because it can largely be reduced to a few minutes in the 4th quarter…

So I pick up at the 4:28 mark of the 4th quarter, where I bring to you, “How to Snatch Defeat from Victory’s Jaws: The Cleveland Edition” (my attempt at channeling my inner Bill Simmons). To provide a little more context, LBJ has just sank 2 free throws (his 39th…and final point of the night) to put the Cavs up 110-107 (Yea, I know I typed that this is his final point of the game, but there’s no way with 4:28 left that I’m right.)

Draymond also has 5 fouls.
Kyrie has been cooking.
Even J.R. Smith has had a decent game.
K Love can’t hit a shot (dare I say in Lake Akron) to save his life. At this point, this is pretty much all you need to know…

Here we go!

4:28 – Steph dribbles the ball up the floor, guarded by Kyrie. Iggy performs the worst screen setting job in NBA history. He comes up to set a back screen on Klay’s man (J.R.) as Klay is going to set a ball screen for Steph…and misses J.R. entirely. Then he whiffs on setting a ball screen for Steph.

Basically, he serves no purpose at all, and likely would have been better off just having a seat on the court. Steph, not to be outdone, proceeds to run the worst offensive set in NBA history (to this point). Ironically, being guarded by Kyrie, he morphs into Kyrie, dribbling all life out of the ball before shoveling it to Durant 35 feet away from the basket with 6 seconds on the shot clock. Durant fakes Lebron into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and easily gets to the paint. Now it’s a 2 on 1, Korver steps up to help, Durant “makes the correct basketball play” by dumping it to Iggy for an easy…And LBJ and Love converge at the rim and he misses the dunk? That was probably Iggy’s most worthless possession in his whole life.

Cavs head the other way.

3:55 – Lebron has Klay posted up on the right elbow. All other 4 Cavs players are spotted up on the perimeter. All 4 Warriors are attached to their man, literally leaving Klay to fend for himself against a much bigger guy. LBJ is about to go to work. LBJ catches and hot potatoes it back out to Kyrie, stands in the same place and calls for it again. Kyrie gives it right back, only LBJ comes up to catch the ball and is now farther away.

I have absolutely no clue what the purpose of any of that was.

LBJ rips, and blows by Klay with his left hand. No one meets him at the basket. Easy buckets…Or…airball the layup.


3:43 – Kevin Durant is assaulted at half court by Kyrie to stop the break. Durant should have shot the ball there. Possibly could have convinced the refs that he was shooting since that’s the new thing to do.

Ball is inbounded. Klay runs his man perfectly off a screen and shoots a cinder block. It almost got stuck, so that has to be worse than a brick right?

Cavs go the other way.

3:15 – LBJ splits an Iggy and Steph double team largely because Steph haphazardly runs up with the worst angle I’ve ever seen.

LBJ has 3 options: score, drop to Love for a dunk, or kick out to J.R.

He chooses door #3 and J.R. knocks down a HUGE 3 to put the Cavs up 113-107.

J.R. celebrates by tucking his “3-finger guns” in their holsters.

3:03 – Draymond catches a pass off a pick and roll from Steph. He is below the dotted line.


Or kick out to Iggy who misses the 3 badly. Not as badly as Klay, but bad.

Oan: Is this what the league is now? Get to the rim but pass up the easy layup for a 3? Lebron did it to start the 3rd quarter and Draymond just did it. Personally I believe in scoring if I am anywhere inside the gym.

It sort of feels like the momentum is shifting here and Cleveland is going to pull this one out.

2:40 – Kyrie has dribbled the orange completely off the basketball and zaps the shot clock to 6. He, then, zips a pass (that I have no idea how it made it there) from the right wing behind the arc all the way to J.R. standing on the left wing behind the arc.

*Rewinds game

Strangely, (and I’ve never really gotten the whole illegal defense thing) Draymond is standing underneath the basket guarding absolutely no one. Surely this has to be illegal. This leaves 3 Warriors guarding 4 Cavs, so this is why the pass gets there.

What happens next is inexplicable…but it’s J.R. Smith, so I’m not sure what I was expecting.

J.R. (to steal my guy, Glyde’s analogy) turns into an EA Sports video game character, but the analog apparently gets stuck. He runs in a straight line behind the arc to the corner behind the arc and jacks up a wild 3 while fading toward the baseline. (It is at this moment in the game when I said that this shot could have left the door open for Golden State.)

LBJ flies in and gets the loose ball. (Nevermind…door partially closed again.)

That was big time hustle. Cavs definitely have the momentum and appear to be ready to seize the moment.

Lebron has Klay on him again on the left block. He dribbles across the paint and is right outside the restricted area.

Easy 2 points…

Or dump it down to Love.

I think Love was assaulted on the play.

Curry gets the outlet, runs in a straight line down the court facing about as much resistance as Mike Tyson did in his early fights. SMH.



2:20 left.

Kyrie dribbles the ball up the floor. This time he dribbles the letters “SPALDING” all the way off the basketball. The shot clock dwindles to 5 seconds, where he gets to the rim but misses the layup.

But Kyrie dives on the floor to get what should have been a Draymond rebound.

That’s a winning play there, Uncle Drew.

By the way, now would be a great time to ask…

Where the hell is Lebron James? (Like he’s literally not even on my screen.)

Oh there he is crossing back over half court.

1:40 – LBJ is a step in front of half court.

He attacks. (I like it. I like it.)

He gets Iggy on the right block. (I like it. I like it.)

He misses a fadeaway jumper…

I don’t really have a problem with that shot. (If you want to nitpick, you could say he didn’t really have to fade, but no big deal there. I guess you could also say he held the ball entirely too long a mile away from the basket and then was forced to move quickly to beat the shotclock.)

Cavs are still ahead and have the momentum. Everyone in the arena is standing.

Kevin Love falls down with a mystery ailment of some sort under the basket.

1:24 – An out-of-control KD is fouled. I guess it was a good foul. I don’t know. Looked like he lost control. Warriors aren’t in the penalty though, so no worries.

Love is just now getting up grimacing.

Ball is inbounded to KD who promptly gets into a mismatch on the perimeter with Tristan Thompson.

Can we all just take a moment of silence here in memory of Tristan Thompson’s game and impending doom?
This video seems appropriate at this point…LOL


Slim goes by him, uses his body to create a little space, and hits a soft shot with those Go-Go Gadget arms.

*claps repeatedly



1:15 left

Lebron brings the ball up the floor, guarded by Draymond. He’s 1 on 1 with plenty of space to do whatever he wants.

Plus as I said earlier – DRAYMOND HAS 5 FOULS.

Heck, you already have had some home cooking, so I figure you can pretty much attack any way possible and get this guy fouled out.

LBJ begins to attack, but crosses back over to the paint where he kicks out to Korver who takes a softly contested 3…

And he misses.

Lebron “made the right basketball play”.

Do you know what “right basketball play” I like even better than that?


Kicking to Kyle Korver will never be a better basketball play than King James using that size to get to the cup!

***Oh and can I just go off on this little tangent here? It is entirely possible for there to be more than 1 “right basketball play” on any given possession.

If Korver makes it, great!
If LBJ scores or gets fouled, great!

The definition of “right basketball play” technically is “whatever play worked”. Heck, I’ve seen the “wrong play” be the “right play” several times in NBA history!

But I digress…

Durant brings the ball up the floor, with the Warriors down 113-111 and the time under 1 minute.

K…what is Lebron doing?

No way they let him just casually dribble up the court right?

No way they let him step into a 3 right?

0:50Easy. Money. Sniper.


KD…wait for it…makes the right basketball play…especially when you are considered the greatest scorer in all hemispheres. He shrugs all other options off, tells his team “I got this”, and pulls up for 3. Though there was no defensive pressure, the moment was certainly pressurized. That’s a right basketball play there too. You know why? Because it went in.

I’m really not sure what LBJ was doing here. Sure, I know that guarding KD is like evading the IRS (not happening captain), but at least give me some situational awareness.

  1. Everyone likes to dribble down the floor and step into their shot. It’s natural. From the YMCA to NBA, if you let guys that are fairly good shooters, dribble right into their jumpers, they will hit. (This KD guy is a fairly good shooter.)
  2. Stopping the ball is a cardinal rule.
  3. You must pick up a shooter of KD’s caliber at half court or a little after crossing half court.
  4. Even if you foul, that’s not that big of a problem because you are giving up 2 free throws at worst. (Unless you’re J.R. Smith, who, without a doubt, would have given up a 4-point play.)

0:45 – Kyrie brings the ball up the floor…

And dribbles the air right out of the ball.

This is a perfect opportunity to get a 2 for 1.

That is clearly too much to ask, as Kyrie is pushing to be the protagonist in this feature film as he leads the charge in snatching defeat from victory’s jaws.

Not only does he dribble the ball too much, he ignores LBJ, and then takes a ridiculous stepback 3…

That misses.

0.25 – Warriors rebound.

Yo, Kyrie…


But oh, it gets even stranger…

There is like a 1 second differential between the game clock and the shot clock…which everyone knows is not enough time, so you have to foul.

Well…not if you’re Cleveland.

They allow about 12 seconds to trickle off before Korver finally fouls KD.

Talk about a collapse of epic proportions.

Of course Easy Money Sniper hits both free throws. These are his 12th and 13th points of the quarter.

12.9 – I’m not really sure what play Lue drew up out of the timeout, but I’m fairly certain that this could not have been it.

Absolutely no one gets open.

Korver inbounds to LBJ in the corner.

LBJ promptly attempts a wild 3, but Iggy strips it from him and the ball goes out of bounds on LBJ.


Nothing about that worked. I’m always of the belief that, even in those situations, you try to drive and get a bucket quickly. Shoot the 3 if it is wide open. However, a forced shot of any kind will all but end the game.

How fitting?

1 year ago, it was Lebron’s epic chase down block of Iggy that became the stuff legends are made of. Matter of fact, that block was blown up as an image to taunt the Warriors.

Not this night.

2 free throws later, and the Warriors have capped off an 11-0 run to end the game and pull ahead 3-0 in a series that appears to be over.

Other than the Cavs not scoring down the stretch, did you notice anything?
The Cavs went to iso ball with Kyrie doing a ridiculous amount of dribbling. All of that dribbling means no one is moving or touching the ball. This gives the defense a breather, but is also TURRIBLE offense.

It also again begs the question – what does Kyrie bring to the table outside of offense? Listen man- the kid is a cold-blooded killer and one of the best finishers I have ever seen. When he is in his bag of tricks, he is quite the entertainer. But as his confidence builds, he begins to shrug off screens, shrug off passing…and most interestingly – shrug off Lebron.

Lebron’s name is hardly mentioned. He was guarded by a guy with 5 fouls, but chose not to attack.

LBJ and Kyrie went cold down the stretch. After putting up 39 and 38 respectively, they could not score 1 point in those final 3 minutes and change. I have been rather vocal about the KD Effect and how he is certainly no Harrison Barnes. I have mentioned his solid defensive effort as well. But do you know who else benefitted greatly from his presence?

Steph and Klay.

Remember up to this point, both those guys had played in 2 NBA Finals, and were largely considered to be rather ho-hum in their performances. Year 1, they were so bad, the league was forced into giving Iggy a finals MVP when he allowed a triple double! Last year, they were hounded into bad shooting and roughed up a bit.

You can’t focus on these 2 when you’ve got that sniper on the floor. Pick your death.

Lethal injection or electric chair or firing squad?

Your attention has to be divided 3 ways now.

Oh…and that 2-time league MVP didn’t go anywhere. He’s just the 2nd option now.

Yea…good luck with that.

Now what the heck will we watch after tonight? House of Cards binge watch party, here I come.

One Comment on “How to Snatch Defeat from Victory’s Jaws: The Cleveland Edition”

  1. Love the way you broke down the last few minutes of that game…I felt like I was watching it all over again…

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