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Richard Jefferson downplays gap between Cavaliers and Warriors in 2017 NBA Finals

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RJ thinks that with a few different bounces, we’d look at the 2017 Finals much differently.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

In an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Richard Jefferson made the case that the gap between the Cavaliers and Warriors in the Finals wasn’t as large as the 4-1 series result showed:

"Fans don't fully grasp it. We lose 4-1, right. We didn't play great. But KD hits that huge shot. Kyle (Korver) -- who is one of the great shooters in the history of basketball -- he has a good look, it doesn't drop. That's part of it.

"And then KD hits a tough shot over LeBron on a dribble-up. That close. You win the next game and it's 2-2.

"If it's 2-2, you go there it's Game 5. There's zero chance -- very similar to the year before -- we do not lose on our home court in a Game 6 situation," Jefferson said. "Now you go Game 7 -- anything can happen.”

"People don't understand: 'Oh 4-1, they killed you.' It's like dude, it's literally one shot here, one shot there."

"That's how close it is. It's literally a difference between three shots playing in a Game 7 and losing 4-1."

It’s not hard to interpret this as sour grapes from Jefferson, but it taps into a mistake that we as a viewing public make a lot: we pretend that the outcomes that are reached are the outcomes that would always play out.

If Durant misses that insanely high degree-of-difficulty three at the end of Game 3, then maybe the series heads back to Oakland 2-2. Sure, the Warriors were the better team in that series, but there’s small bounces that dictate games and series on a larger scale.

If you played that Finals 100 times, the Warriors might win 90 of them. The reality is that Golden State did win, and re-litigating does little good. That doesn’t mean their victory was preordained, and if coming back from 3-1 in 2016 doesn’t teach people that, it’s likely nothing will.