You could chalk up the Cleveland Cavaliers’ massive turnaround from a 30-point loss in Game 2 to a 30-point win in Game 3 to any number of reasons — they were at home, most obviously, J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving finally got their shots going, Kevin Love didn’t play — and you’d likely be right on any of them. However, according to the Cavs themselves, they had a little something extra give them the boost they needed: a rant filled with profanity from their assistant coach, Phil Handy, after their Game 2 loss.
Handy, who happens to be a native of Oakland, erupted with a profanity-laced tirade, questioning their toughness and the lack of fight they displayed on such a grand stage. The players were shocked. Handy is relatively quiet. In Handy’s outburst that lasted a few minutes, his overall message was clear and to the point: You guys were punked and you did absolutely nothing about it.
Everyone watching the first two games knew that the Cavs’ effort level on defense just wasn’t to the caliber we’d expect from a team in the NBA Finals. They missed a shocking amount of rotations, closed out on shooters late, and looked generally listless. They did a complete 180 for Game 3, and they blitzed the Warriors. Now it’ll be Golden State’s turn to respond, and the Cavs will have to hope that Handy’s magic rage-out hasn’t lost its effect quite yet.