Even before the NBA Finals started, it was clear the odds were stacked against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are playing a Warriors team that was better than them on offense and defense while also being deeper and less injured. That was before Kyrie Irving's fractured kneecap removed Cleveland's margin for error.
But as the Cavaliers proved Sunday night, it's still possible for them to win the NBA Finals. LeBron James played one of the best games imaginable. He had 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists. Nobody has ever had 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists in an NBA game in the scope of time we can search:
Wait, what? pic.twitter.com/LSYiJyYsQp— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) June 8, 2015
Not a Finals game, not a playoff game, not a regular season game, never. He just did it in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
It wasn't particularly efficient -- he took 35 shots -- but he didn't have much of an option. Only two of his teammates, Timofey Mozgov and James Jones, managed more points than shots. As happened in Game 1, either LeBron scored or assisted, or the Cavaliers basically didn't have a chance offensively. The fact that James was even close to efficient against a defense this good is a testament to how great a night he had.
On the other team, Stephen Curry had one of the worst nights imaginable. Curry is best shooter in the NBA, but he went 2-for-15 from deep. He'd never missed 13 threes in a game before; his previous high was 11 on a 5-for-16 night against the Bobcats in 2013. Nobody had ever missed 13 threes in an NBA Finals game before. In fact, nobody had ever *taken* 13 threes in a Finals game before. The previous high was 12, and only John Starks had managed to miss 12 or more. Curry had more turnovers (six) than assists (five), something he only did once this entire season.
One superstar played like a superstar, putting together an incredible performance even compared with his other incredible performances. One superstar spent his night permanently stepping in dog poop.
And yet this was not a blowout. This game went to overtime. The Cavaliers won, 95-93.
This is how slim Cleveland's margin for error is. Everything can go right for them, and it will still be close.
It is possible for the Cavs to win the NBA Finals. They just need the best player in the world to play better than he usually plays, and they need the massive talents of the Warriors to fall flat.
And they need it to happen three more times.
SB Nation presents: LeBron is carrying a team of spare parts yet again