As we’ve seen throughout the course of sports history, having a great, magnificent regular season doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win it all in the playoffs. The 116-win Mariners proved that in 2001. So did the 16-0 Patriots in 2007. Heck, even the 100-win Cardinals had the best record in baseball last year and were promptly bounced in the NLDS.
So, no, having the best record in the regular season – even a record-setting regular season – is not necessarily a prerequisite for playoff success.
The Golden State Warriors found that out the hard way.
“I really think – and I heard this way too many times – that Golden State thought they had won it all once they beat Oklahoma City and that they kind of felt like they were going to coast in this Cavs series,” Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan host Andy Baskin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The other thing is, people were ripping the East left and right. You may still think the West is a stronger conference, but the Cavaliers had a great record against the West, and I think they proved themselves. I think they proved the East to be a little bit better than maybe what everyone else was saying.”
The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to squander a 3-1 lead in the Finals and the first team since 1978 to lose a Finals Game 7 at home.
So much for the NBA being “rigged,” as Ayesha Curry vented on Twitter following the Warriors’ Game 6 loss in Cleveland. The Cavs were just better. In fact, plenty of “Bye Ayesha” shirts are now being sold in Cleveland.
“If that’s true, I got to go find one,” Baskin said. “But thank her. I’m still trying to figure out what she was thinking. I just don’t understand it. Klay Thompson, what were you thinking? Ayesha, what were you thinking? Why would you do that? You’re up 3-1 in a series. Why poke the bear? The series is almost over. So Draymond Green got thrown out and all of a sudden you want to start talking smack? You’re up 3-1 in a series. Win the series and then talk smack. Don’t talk smack before you (win).”
LeBron James, meanwhile, can play the rest of his career with house money. He brought a championship to Cleveland. Even if he doesn’t win another ring, he’ll be a god-like figure in Northeast Ohio for the rest of his life.
“He already was,” Baskin said. “He didn’t have to win the NBA Finals. He did’t have to win a championship. I think it’s a pretty good relationship, especially after some of the stories that came out in the last 24 hours about what LeBron had to say about his time in Miami. I think LeBron has completely realized that this situation is a great situation for him with Dan Gilbert because Dan’s not scared to spend money. Dan is always willing to spend money, and coming from Cleveland, that’s something you got to appreciate.”