It looks kinda hopeless for Cleveland doesn’t it? Everything that has been said about the Durant addition proved to be true in Game 1. Even James said – “KD”.
It’s not a three-peat of Cavs v. Warriors, it’s a whole new match-up.
So now what?
Option one – Cavs are intimidated and demoralized. This would have to be true on some level. Could they just opt out? I bet the wish has crossed some of their minds. But of course, they can’t, won’t and mostly don’t even want to.
Which makes the mental challenge one of “have they let themselves feel their fear?” It’s unconventional and ironic but doing just that could be their mental magic. In their pure form, negative emotions have something to alert us to. A stark reckoning of what they face in Warriors 2.0 has the power to change the tide.
It takes courage. It seems like mental weakness but in truth the ability to own the negative is the epitome of mental toughness. More importantly, it gets the job done. We all can do amazing things by leveraging the power of the negative. Think bust momentum for one.
Which leads to option two – LeBron goes through this process which allows him to summon that will to win for Cleveland from last year and channel it squarely in KD’s direction.
Right now, it’s definitely not about “Am I better than Jordan?” It’s about “am I or can I be – better than this guy on the court? Can I lead my team in shutting him down?”
As I said in Match-up #1, this is where the Cavs have the advantage. LeBron, Irving, Love – they know how to come back from the impossible. (I do wonder about Lue. You don’t have to be someone who analyzes emotion to see he was mystified.)
But that aside, what about over on the other bench? I said before Game 1 that Curry feels entitled. Is there a chance that blowout redeemed him in his own mind? That cheerleader kick he displayed says “yes”. Will the Cavs get a window of over-confidence that they can exploit? It’s not at all out of the realm of the possible.
Which leaves us with the mental state of KD. He’s thrilled, relieved and excited for sure. It’s all coming together. In Game 1 he was – among other things – vindicating his decision to join the Warriors. Can that extend to Game 2? Maybe…. but is he psychologically as skilled as LeBron? On that one I am skeptical.