After an 11-month and some odd days wait, the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals, looking to pass a test that they flunked last year that was somewhat rigged. Sure, they could have won four games against the Golden State Warriors and aced the Finals, but the circumstances weren’t in their favor. With Kevin Love’s arm de-socketed in the first round of the NBA playoffs and Kyrie Irving’s knee de-capped after Game 1, the Cavs were staring at a list of questions they didn’t have the answer to. The professor slashed the Cavs’ bike tires, took the batteries out of their calculator, snapped their pencils in half, turned the thermostat up to 95, and asked a bunch of questions on that chapter she swore wouldn’t be on the test and no one read, and then drenched the Cavs in champagne on the way out the door after they only managed a 50 percent.
But this year, the Cavaliers have studied up, coming into this Finals test with a realistic shot at passing this thing. They may not win it, but unlike your brother-in-law who’s failed the bar exam six times, they have a shot.
http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1674972-tyronn-lue-wants-cav... This isn’t just about the Cavalier and Warrior players, though. The Finals are a test for fans as well. You don’t want to embarrass yourself on Twitter, Reddit, or the water cooler. You didn’t sit through 30 weeks of class just to show up drunk for the final, hoping to successfully plow your way through a semester’s worth of material without barfing SoCo and pizza all over your Scantron. Last season, WFNY helped you prepare for the NBA Playoffs with our exam preparation course. This season, WFNY is here again to help you brush up on the material before the 2016 NBA Finals.
So sharpen your pencils, plant your fanny in a chair, and work your way through this exam 2016 NBA Finals Exam prep. And don’t cheat, because then (in as condescending and judgmental tone I can muster) you won’t pass the final. Good luck.
Question 1 (2 points)
True or False: The Cavaliers do not have a chance to win the NBA Finals.
Answer: If you work for a major media outlet, True. Members of all media outlets are contractually obligated to unconditionally love and support the Warriors.
If you don’t work for a major media outlet, False. Sorry I pulled a false negative question on you, a classic jerk teacher move. Yes, the Warriors are good (they won 73 games, a historically high margin of victory). But the Cavaliers have a core of great players, and a versatile offense that can play multiple styles. They have also cruised in the playoffs (+13.4 net points per 100 possessions) against teams that won more games than the Warriors' opponents (148 to 140). The Oklahoma City Thunder took the Warriors to seven games with a mediocre bench. Also, if you're new here, the Cavaliers have this guy named LeBron James. He's pretty good.
The Cavs are rightfully underdogs, but they have somewhere in the neighborhood of a 30-40 percent chance ... but that's a chance.
Question 2 (2 points)
True or False: The turning point of the Cavs' season was the firing of David Blatt and promotion of Tyronn Lue.
Answer: True. It sounded crazy at the time. It sounds crazy now. But the Cavaliers canned their coach with one of the highest winning percentages in NBA history ... when they were 30-11. But apparently, they just didn't like the dude. Though things didn't turn around immediately, Coach Lue's ability to motivate players, hold them accountable, and seem like a generally cool dude appears to have sparked their playoff success.
Note: You also received credit if you answered "False," and wrote in that the turning point was when Coach Lue reminded Kevin Love he's a "bad m-----f-----."
Question 3 (2 points)
True or False: Channing Frye is the Cavaliers most important bench player in the series. Support your answer to receive full credit.
Answer: True. Channing Frye is having an astounding playoffs. By several measures, he’s having one of the best shooting postseasons in NBA history. Frye is one of seven players to make over 55 percent of his threes while attempting more than 30 threes, and he has the highest field goal percentage (81.8) in recorded NBA playoff history among players to attempt more than 15 three-pointers. The Warriors have avoided Frye all season, and are yet to see the wrinkles he adds to the Cavalier offense.
A 6-11 center who shoots over anyone on the court, plays serviceable defense, and has a career three-point shooting percentage of 47.0 against the Warriors, Frye is capable of dragging away Warrior rim protectors like Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli out of the paint, and of punishing a roving Draymond Green in a small lineup. If Frye continues to shoot the lights out, Frye could be the great equalizer against the Warriors. Cavs General Manager David Griffin pats himself on the back every time Frye hits a shot, having tolerated widespread whining when he sacrificed beloved Cavalier and human rag doll Anderson Varejao to acquire the dynamic Frye.
Other answers receiving full credit: Matthew Dellavedova (if you mentioned running the second unit with James, Australian rules football-ing Stephen Curry); Iman Shumpert (hassling Curry/Klay Thompson, making enough shots to prevent the Warriors from ignoring him on defense); Timofey Mozgov (giving the best high fives, frightening the most Golden State fans near the Cavalier bench); Richard Jefferson (coolest alley-oops).
Question 4 (4 points)
Fill in the Blank: LeBron James has made ___ straight NBA Finals appearances.
D. Because I refuse to acknowledge LeBron James’ tenure in Miami, 2
Answer: B. 6. As admirable as it is that you may try to ignore LeBron James taking the black and spending four years in Miami, James has made his sixth straight NBA Finals — making him the first player to do so since a handful of players on the 1960s Boston Celtics, in what was basically a pre-history NBA. Though the shine of such an accomplishment would be tarnished somewhat by dropping going to 2-4 over that Finals streak, it’s still one of the more impressive feats in NBA history.
Note: James Jones will also be appearing in his sixth straight NBA Finals, but, despite seeming like a nice guy, Jones has about as much to do with the Cavaliers' Finals appearance as Lil Kev.
Question 5 (4 points)
Multiple Choice. The best five-man lineup with over 25 minutes played in the playoffs is:
A. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dellavedova,Matthew - Frye,Channing - James,LeBron - Jefferson,Richard - Shumpert,Iman
B. Oklahoma City Thunder: Adams,Steven - Durant,Kevin - Kanter,Enes - Waiters,Dion - Westbrook,Russell
C. Golden State Warriors: Barnes,Harrison - Curry,Stephen - Green,Draymond - Iguodala,Andre - Thompson,Klay (aka “The Lineup of Death”)
D. Memphis Grizzles: Adams,Steven - Durant,Kevin - Kanter,Enes - Waiters,Dion - Westbrook,Russell
Answer: A. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dellavedova,Matthew - Frye,Channing - James,LeBron - Jefferson,Richard - Shumpert,Iman. This may come as a surprise to many, given that the Warriors had the top two lineups in the NBA during the regular season (according to net rating), including the fabled “Lineup of Death” of Barnes-Curry-Green-Iguodala-Thompson. But it’s the Cavaliers who have the top lineup in the playoffs with over 25 minutes, as the unorthodox lineup of Delly-Frye-James-Jefferson-Shumpert has outscored opponents by 46.6 points per 100 possessions in 70 minutes of playing time over 12 games. Coach Tyronn Lue has relied on this lineup at the start of the second and fourth quarters, and it was thoroughly devastating against the Toronto Raptors (+34 in only 33 minutes of playing time). Meanwhile, how has the legendary “Lineup of Death” been? Minus-0.3 points per 100 possessions in 72 minutes of playing time (aka “average”).
http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1675050-kyrie-irving-s-moment Lineup data is noisy, matchup dependent, and subject to small samples, but perhaps Oklahoma City (which pushed around the Warriors’ Lineup of Death to the tune of 7.2 points per 100 possessions) gave the Cavaliers some good tape to study when countering the lineup that served as the skeleton key against them in the 2015 Finals. The Warriors have more obvious counters to this LeBron + second-unit lineup than the Raptors did, but that lineup has an insane 4.00 assist-to-turnover ratio (the highest in the playoffs) and could give anyone a handful, especially if Steph is on the bench.
Question 6 (4 points)
Multiple Choice. The Cavaliers most demoralizing loss of the regular season was:
A. A 76-105 loss on the road vs. the Portland Trail Blazers on December 26, 2015
B. A 98-132 loss at home vs. the Golden State Warriors on January 18, 2016
C. A 103-104 loss at home vs. the Boston Celtics on February 5, 2016
D. A 99-113 loss on the road to the Washington Wizards on February 28
E. A 95-104 loss on the road to the Brooklyn Nets on March 24
Answer: Any. All of these answers are acceptable. If you were able to muster the strength to pick any of them, you get full credit. The key to take from this list was that, periodically throughout the season, the Cavaliers reminded fans that they were incapable of contending for a title in their then-present form. You’re free to argue amongst yourselves over which of these losses was the most depressing, and the most crippling blow to the collective faith of Cavalier fans. You know, if you’re a sadist or something.
Question 7 (4 points)
Multiple Choice. Most justifiable reason to hate Stephen Curry:
A. He’s the best player in the NBA
B. He would have never lasted in the NBA back in my day [angrily swings cane in air]
C. He chews on his mouthguard too much, which is kind of gross
D. He has an adorable daughter
E. He acts a little emo
Answer: C. Let's be real. There's not a great reason to hate Stephen Curry. He's having one of the best seasons in NBA history, he's the only player not named Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, or Stephen Curry to have a Player Efficiency Rating over 30, and he made over 400 three-pointers this season, basically the equivalent of hitting 100 home runs. Hating Steph is like hating Jordan or James. However, he does chomp on that soggy, spit-drenched chew toy of a mouthguard like a dog on a pair of slippers, and that's gross. So if you're going to hate Steph, go with that reason.
Question 8 (6 points)
Draymond Green has been involved in which of the following questionable incidents or borderline assaults in the playoffs:
A. Punching referee Ken Mauer in the arm
B. Killing Mufasa by pushing him into a stampede
C. Pulling Steven Adams to the ground by his arm
D. Kneeing Steven Adams in the groin
E. Karate-kicking Steven Adams in the groin
F. Using the Death Star to blow up the planet Alderaan
G. Scissor-tripping Enes Kanter
H. Hastening the extinction of no less than three species of rare birds
I. Hip-tossing Rockets forward Michael Beasley to the ground as the game clock expired in a Warriors loss
J. Killing Harry Potter’s parents
Answer: A, C, D, E, G, I (1 point for each correct selection, +4 bonus points for getting all correct). Yes, Draymond Green has done all those things in the playoffs. No, he has not been suspended, and it will probably require him to take a chair to the back of Kevin Love's head to miss a game. The perpetrators of the other misdeeds were as follows: B. Uncle Scar; F. Grand Moff Tarkin; H. Human destruction of natural habitats; J. Lord Voldemort.
Question 9 (4 points)
Multiple Choice. What is the most significant hypothetical historical footnote from the future at stake in the NBA Finals?
A. “The 2015-16 Warriors were one of the greatest teams in NBA history, winning a record 73 games in the regular season and the NBA Finals.”
B. “Stephen Curry’s 2015-16 season was one of the greatest in American professional sports history, becoming the NBA’s first unanimous MVP and Finals MVP.”
C. “LeBron James won his third NBA championship, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time and becoming only the second player to win NBA Finals MVP for multiple teams.”
D. “Cleveland’s championship drought of over 51 years came to an end when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals over the heavily favored 73-win Golden State Warriors.”
E. “J.R. Smith earned the nickname ‘Jump Shot Jesus’ by making 50 percent of his 84 attempted three-pointers, an all-time great performance among unabashed gunners in any sport.”
Answer: Any of the above are acceptable, though D. is the scenario most likely to make me weep more than a Bachelor finale party.
Question 10 (4 points)
What was the funniest part of Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob’s profile in The New York Times?
A. Lacob gave more credit to ownership for success of the franchise than the two-time MVP of the league
B. The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry before Lacob even bought the team
C. The following quote: “But Lacob won’t accept that what the Warriors have achieved is a product of anything but a master plan. ‘The great, great venture capitalists who built company after company, that’s not an accident,’ he said. ‘And none of this is an accident, either.’”
D. Lacob bragged that he’s “one of the 10 best blackjack players in the world,” which is like bragging that you're one of the 10 best in the world at making Hamburger Helper
Question 11 (up to 12 points)
Short answer: In 300 words or less, make an argument for how the Cavalier beat the Golden State Warriors in the Finals.
Answer: Grading Rubric
- [Insert literally any combination of words] LeBron James (5 points)
- Cavs are actually healthy this season (1 point)
- Cavs are only team with offensive versatility to match with Golden State (1 point)
- Though less athletic than Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving can actually shoot (1 point)
- Kyrie Irving will challenge Stephen Curry’s defense, tiring him (1 point)
- Unlike last Finals, Cavs actually shoot well (1 point)
- One or more of J.R. Smith/Channing Frye/Kyrie Irving/Kevin Love shoot like a real-life video game character (1 point)
- The Cavs finally figured out how how to play pick-and-roll defense in the Toronto Raptors series (1 point)
- Like the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavs could own the glass (1 point, +1 point for mentioning the Cavs’ rebounding percentage is only second to the Thunder in the playoffs, and the best on the defensive glass)
- Andre Iguodala does not shoot an 40.0 percent from three this year (1 point)
- The Cavaliers are better than the Thunder, who took the Warriors to the brink of a Game 7 (1 point, +1 point for mentioning that the Cavs’ secondary scoring options are better than Andre Roberson and Dion Waiters)
- Urban Meyer is helping Coach Lue watch film (1 point)
- Coach Lue will bench Kyrie Irving for Matthew Dellavedova (-5 points)
- Mentioning that Cleveland is "due" for a championship (-2 points)
- "I was really good this year and asked [God/Santa/Prince’s ghost] for a Cavs championship" (-2 points)
Time's up! Trade with a partner or grade your own (no cheating!). Tally up those final scores. Here's what the scores mean.
45-48+ points: A-League Pass Subscriber
40-44 points: B-Member of the Mark Price Fan Club
35-39 points: C-Just here to drink and eat nachos
30-34 points: D-LeBron Who?
<0-29 points: F-Would rather talk Browns quarterbacks
The Finals start on Thursday. Good luck to Cleveland Cavaliers fans and players alike. Let’s ace it this year.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kcwelch330