The Cleveland Cavaliers fought their way back into the NBA Finals last night by blowing out the Golden State Warriors the same way their foes had conquered games one and two of the series.
The 63 point swing over the course of three games is the largest in NBA Finals history and makes the series incredibly hard to read. Whilst it suggests that both teams are strong on their homecourt, it indicates precious little about what either side can do to take control.
First, it was Golden State's bench, then it was Draymond Green and last night it was LeBron James. Surely it's only a matter of time before it's the Splash Brothers' night?
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Either way, for Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, it could have been so very different had he just listened to a friend back in 2012.
Gilbert, a Michigan State grad like Green, talked to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne about passing on Green despite a late plea from Spartans head coach Tom Izzo.
Here's an extract from ESPN:
"In 2012, Gilbert had said that the big lesson he learned from James' departure in 2010 was to never let a player have that much leverage over his franchise again. But coming out of that meeting with James' agents, Gilbert thought back to the call he'd gotten from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo at the end of the first round of the 2012 NBA draft.
"Izzo had told him, "You gotta take my guy." The Cavs had two second-round picks, and Izzo was calling Gilbert, a Michigan State guy, to tell him that Draymond Green was the real deal. "I still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat that we didn't take him," Gilbert says of Green, who torched the Cavs for 28 points in the Warriors' 110-77 win in Game 2 of the Finals. "I didn't listen to my gut."
Every year organisations must watch players blossom and wish they had of had the foresight to take a chance on them when they were drafted. Look at Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics, he was drafted dead last at 60th overall back in 2011 but he became an All-Star this year. It's safe to say literally every franchise passed on him.
It's hard to say whether Green would have flourished the way he has in Oakland had he resided in Ohio. Two years later, Kevin Love made his way to the Quicken Loans Arena; would his arrival have stifled Green's progression, or, conversely, would the Cavs have traded for him in the first place?
With the Dubs, Green has since become an NBA All-Star and All-Defensive Team player. Only three other players from the 2012 draft have made All-Star teams - Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond.
While it's fun to speculate, the reality is Green is now a Warrior and a one-time NBA champion with his sights firmly locked on a second. Standing in his way are Gilbert's Cavaliers and should Green continue to be the difference maker he has been thus far, the Cavs owner can expect a few more sleepless nights.