Friday, June 10, 2016

Why The Cavaliers' Game Three Rout is Meaningless.







Relax, Golden State Warrior fans.

There's nothing wrong with your team. That 120-90 drubbing by the Cleveland Cavaliers is no cause for concern. What it meant is that the Warriors didn't take that game seriously. After crushing the Cavs in Oakland in the first two games of the Finals, they know they're better than Cleveland and can whip the Cavs when it counts. To the Warriors, that third game was a perfect time for a siesta.

The difference was the Warrior defense. In the first quarter you could see the GS defenders weren't sharp. They were a step slow, and often late on their rotations, playing closer to matador defense than lock-down defense. When Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, a lame defender who tends to disappear in the clutch, scores 16 points in the first quarter, you know the defense is tanking.

Also, and very important, the Cavs were desperate. Losing that game meant slipping to an 0-3 deficit, essentially a death sentence. Desperate teams play all out for 48 minutes and tend to play way over their heads. That was Cleveland on Wednesday.

That day, the Warriors weren't even close to matching the Cavs'  intensity. It's nearly impossible for a team to switch its mental attitude once the game starts. If their heads aren't in the game and they start out in first gear, they are not going to shift into overdrive during the game. It's like the Warriors' loss to the lowly, pathetic Lakers during the season. Playing at their usual high level, the Warriors could destroy the Lakers by 40..But the Warriors, for some reason, were playing at half speed and got pummeled. They had that same I'm-on-vacation attitude on Wednesday.

You know something is wrong when the short-handed Cavs can kill the Warriors. Cleveland was without starting power forward Kevin Love, sidelined by a concussion. OK, so Love may be soft and slow-footed but he's still a decent player. In his place was ancient Richard Jefferson, who racked up 9 points and 8 boards. When Love comes back, he'll be sub par. Jefferson is too old to be effective for the rest of the series. With Love ailing, Jefferson will be forced to play more minutes than usual. Also, that will weaken an already weak bench.

Part of the Warriors' problem is that their big stars, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, have played poorly in the series. Curry, hampered by an injured knee, isn't in top form. But he still is healthy enough to beat the Cavs, who aren't capable of playing great defense--which they did on Wednesday--for long. With that bad bench, the team won't have the energy to keep the Warriors down the rest of the way.. 

To win the Finals, the Cavs have to win one in Oakland, which they simply don't have enough talent to do. The Warriors took a game off and they may do it again--on the road.

When the Warriors have to win games, they will do it. Remember, they beat the Thunder, which is a much better team than Cleveland.

So Warrior fans, you can relax. At the end of Finals, the Cavs will slink back to Cleveland, empty-handed..