The Cleveland Cavaliers barely showing up in Golden State made a mockery of the trilogy. They looked glazed and a little comatose and were never in the game. When you are in that kind of attention deficit trauma against Kevin Durant and company cruel things are bound to happen.
The defense was pathetic, and at least for a day, none of the Cavs acquisitions seemed worth it. Deron Williams looked miscast. Kyle Korver looked confused. The other Cavs not named LeBron and Kyrie could have stayed at the hotel. Kevin Love threw up bricks. Tristan Thompson repeatedly got stripped and looked slow. J.R. Smith was J.R. Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert were invisible. Wake the Cavs bench up and tell them this is the NBA Finals. They are playing a team they barely beat last June. It took a game 7 and a three point Kyrie bomb with 50 seconds left to drive a stake in the Warriors perfect season. There is no dominance over the Warriors despite how spectacular LeBron James plays.
The Cavs are a team that has played more games than anyone else in their conference the past three years. The Warriors are a team that has played more games than anyone else in their conference the past three years. Guess who looks fresher? The Warriors. Because the last two years Kevin Durant was a spectator.
Speaking of Durant, whoever thought up that game plan of running away from Durant (that’s you Kyrie), please burn it. Completely. Parting the Red Sea was harder. Letting Durant dunk and jam and throw down was a pathetic defensive effort. The only thing KD didn’t do was a windmill.
When a team has won a title, and won it the way the Cavs won it in Oakland last year, coming back from a 3-1 deficit, they are given the benefit of the doubt. The Cavs did something that wasn’t just extraordinary, it was historical. But as much praise and glory as the Cavs should receive for what they accomplished in beating down the Warriors last June when the Warriors had their foot on the Cavs throat, it is important to remember the Warriors had their foot on the Cavs throat. These past three years, the Cavs have shown little consistency in being able to handle the Warriors attack.
If the Cavs don’t finish the job this year, like the Warriors couldn’t finish the job last year, if they don’t repeat as champions, then the question needs to be asked: were the Cleveland Cavaliers a miracle story that belongs to history and that is it?
After Game 1, it looked that way. It’s no reason to panic, not yet. It was just the first game. After a few days off, the Cavs can come back and play with heart. The problem is Klay Thompson doesn’t have to score. He can defend his ass off and then the Cavs are really in trouble. They don’t have the depth of offensive talent like the Warriors. They also don’t have a cause.
The Warriors have revenge on their mind. They choked in 2016. They allowed their best team in history to go down the drain because they couldn’t win a game without Draymond Green. They were stunned by the Kevin Durant hate, how vicious it was. And so they have the will to end this thing for the right reason and cut the Cavs heart out. If the Cavs have any heart.
LeBron James has three NBA titles. It’s going to take a team effort to get to four. The Warriors have exposed all the Cavs flaws. In the regular season, the only teams with a worse bench than the Cavs were the Wizards and Minnesota. The Wizards bench cost them a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wolves bench kicked them out the playoffs. Will the Cavs bench keep Cleveland a one and done team, joining the Celtics (2008) and the Mavericks (2011) as one time champs?
LeBron James and his herculean talents have a way of blurring the lines. LeBron has only lost one NBA Finals as a champion. It happened in 2014 and he lost in the Finals to the Spurs. The Cavs are way off from that- so many things have to take place, have to fall out of order- but it is not crazy to imagine KD as Finals MVP. The Cavs are the underdogs and you see why.
That said, what killed them in Game 1 were turnovers. If they clean up their casualness, the game can remain competitive. If they continue their zero help from the bench, then this is a waste of four games for anyone who wanted to see a series befitting a trilogy. The last NBA Finals sweep was the Cavs in 2007 against the Spurs. It was the last time we were really bored.
In game one, you needed no introductions. The carnage and blood identified the victims. It was a thorough Kevin Durant whipping. The dangerous calculus the Cavs are faced with is to live and die with 32 year old LeBron James, expecting that to save you.
Cavs need more than King James. They need everybody.
photo via llananba