Are the Golden State Warriors Making the NBA Finals Boring?

GettyImages-968728056 Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with Draymond Green #23 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The NBA Finals have lived up to expectations so far, developing into the sort of one-sided series everyone except Golden State fans—and perhaps even them—feared it would be.

Wednesday’s night 110-102 win in Cleveland put the Warriors up 3-0 in the series and in touching distance of a second consecutive title, a third in four years.

The debate over whether a fourth installment of Golden State vs Cleveland would be a positive for the NBA began before the Finals even started and has now prompted people to ask whether the Warriors’ stranglehold over the league could be doing more harm than good.

The claim might be a little ungenerous for a team that has earned its right to be considered among the great NBA dynasties, particularly as the Warriors are not the first team to win consecutive NBA titles.

Michael Jordan’s Bulls clinched two separate “three-peats”, the Lakers’ first three titles under Phil Jackson served up finals that were as lop-sided as any, while the Detroit Pistons dropped just one game in the two Finals appearances they made in 1989 and 1990. Stretching further back in the history books, Red Auerbach’s legendary Celtics team required five games or less to win a ring in over half of the nine consecutive seasons they became champions.

Even taking that into account, nobody needed Warriors and Cavs to meet in the Finals for the fourth year in a row—and not because seeing the same two teams slug it out year after year becomes boring.

The Lakers and the Celtics met three times between 1984 and 1987 and each series was just as gripping, but that was never going to be the case this year, as the Warriors are so much better than Cleveland.

The Cavs had no answer for the Warriors last year when they were dispatched 4-1 and have lost Kyrie Irving since, making an arduous task almost impossible. When Cleveland came back from 3-1 down to beat the Warriors in 2016, Golden State then went out and added Kevin Durant to a roster that already included three All-NBA players.

Things might have been different had George Hill scored both free throws in Game 1 or had J.R. Smith not forgotten the score, but even had the Cavs won the opening game, they would still have been the underdogs.

The Warriors, after all, were the biggest favorite going into an NBA Finals since the Lakers took on the Sixers in 2001.

Outlandish as it might sound, Golden State had more than a hand on the Larry O’Brien Trophy from the moment it beat the Rockets in Houston in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals after coming back from 3-2 down.

James Harden and Chris Paul asked serious questions of the Warriors, while even at his superhuman best, not even LeBron James can win a series by himself against the best team on the planet.

After Game 3, LeBron compared the Warriors to the New England Patriots.

“It’s almost like playing the Patriots," he told reporters. “You can’t have mistakes. They’re not going to beat themselves.”

It’s hard to disagree with the three-time NBA champion either, as since it appointed coach Bill Belichick in 2000, New England has reached the Super Bowl eight times.

The Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years between 2001 and 2004 and have since added two more, in 2014 and 2016.

Unless someone can mount a serious challenge, it is not absurd to suggest the Warriors could match the Patriots’ titles, given their superiority.

It is hard to begrudge Steve Kerr’s men either, as they can only beat the teams in front of them and the lack of a competitive side in the Eastern Conference is neither the Warriors’ fault not their problem.

Not that viewers are tuning out just yet. Ratings for ABC's broadcast of Game 2 of the NBA Finals were down slightly from last year. However, it still drew a peak audience of 22.5 million viewers and averaged 18.5 million, the third-largest Game 2 audience since 2001.

And yet, for a league like the NBA that prides itself on being competitive, the Warriors’ dominance could pose a significant threat. If there’s a silver lining to Warrior vs Cavs IV is that this is will almost certainly be the last series between these two for a long while.

The future of the East almost certainly belongs to Boston and Philadelphia, while LeBron’s next move could reshape the NBA’s landscape.

Until then, however, Golden State will continue to win and to make the NBA Finals a bit less entertaining than they ought to be, if not downright boring.

 

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