2018 NBA Finals: Warriors vs. Cavaliers

Blogtable: What happens in Game 1 that could prove Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance?

Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day

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If I see _____ during Game 1, I know the Cavs have a chance to win the NBA Finals.

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Steve Aschburner: Steph Curry or Kevin Durant rolled off on a gurney. Too harsh? I can’t put a lot of stock in a strong Game 1 performance by any particular Cavaliers player — other than LeBron James — because their issues have been consistency and reliability, not capability. A big game one night, vanished the next. I suppose this might be a decent litmus test, though: Kevin Love plays in Game 1, which means he’s freed from the concussion protocol of the East finals, and puts up numbers reminiscent of his Minnesota days, something in the 25 points, 15 rebounds range. Remember, Kyrie Irving in last year’s Finals averaged 29.4 points and sank nearly 42 percent of his 3-pointers. The role of James’ wing man is a void into which none of his teammates has stepped. So if I see Love do that in Game 1, then sure, the Cavs would have a pretty good chance against Golden State.

Shaun Powell: If I see Kyrie Irving in a Cavs uniform at tipoff and the last 10 months were all a dream and he never demanded a trade to the Celtics — which I figured was not believable, anyway. OK, in all seriousness: If I see Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant each grabbing a body part in pain and sitting, then yes, the Cavs have a chance. Otherwise, no.

John Schuhmann: Pigs fly? The great thing about sports is that anything can happen and we’ve certainly had some unexpected results in these playoffs already. But in regard to per-game point differential through the regular season and playoffs, the Cavs (plus-1.0) are the worst team to reach The Finals in the last 37 years (since the 1980-81 Rockets reached The Finals with a point differential of plus-0.8). Even if you just consider the playoffs (the Cavs have flipped the switch, right?), they have the worst point differential since the 1993-94 Knicks (plus-1.2). The Warriors aren’t as good as they were last year, but the Cavs are much worse.

Sekou Smith: The ghost of a healthy Kyrie Irving from 2016 … too much? Yes, that’s going a bit far. Tyronn Lue could unload his entire bench, every single player against the Warriors, and I’m still not convinced the Cavaliers will have a chance to win this series. I know what they’ve done to the Eastern Conference field in the playoffs. I recognize the power LeBron wields over the rest of the conference (think Thanos, snapping his finger and making the competition disappear). But his powers don’t work against the Western Conference. He’ll need some divine intervention to lift the Cavaliers up and over the Warriors this time. And the bearded, clutch-shooting partner in crime that aided him in 2016 no longer works in Cleveland.