Golden State Warriors
Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals. This is why these guys play, nothing is more important right now. But these finals more than any other in recent memory, have substantially more meaning. Win or lose these 2016 NBA Finals mean everything and more to both teams involved.
After game 4 of the Western Conference Finals there has been a lot of talk about how Russell Westbrook is destroying Stephen Curry. Even with the game 2 no-show there is no doubt that Russ has been the best player in this series and perhaps the playoffs as a whole. He takes ‘bad’ shots, plays out of control on occasion and is one of the worst help defenders starting in the playoffs but more than makes up for it with his aggression and physical superiority, best exemplified when he goes on one of his violent one man fast breaks finished with an explosion to the basket.
The end result has been somewhat overshadowed by accusations leveled at Draymond Green and his intentions when his lower leg met Steven Adams’s lower abdomen, but make no mistake, this was a spanking.
The Golden State Warriors, fresh off the shock of losing their tenth game of the 2015-2016 NBA season contrived to drop yet another game to the Portland Trailblazers. Fortunately for Warriors fans, from the oldest of old school Philadelphia/San Francisco breed, to the Run-TMC era, to the Baron Davis generation, to the billionaire silicon valley tech-heads to Stephen Dawson, the defending champions were already two games to the good and went on to win the next two, closing out one of the season’s most surprise packages 4-1.
It really seems like a long time ago that the Houston Rockets were good. It has, however, only been a year since their run past the Dallas Mavericks (4-1), the LA Clippers (4-3, coming back from 3-1 down) led them to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since the Olajuwon era (they did make the West semi finals in 2009 behind Tracy McGrady and despite Yao Ming’s injury).
The Cleveland Cavaliers finally ran out of gas, despite a JR Smith-led late burst in game 6, and the Golden State Warriors are the 2015 NBA Champions. Looking at the two sides, it really shouldn’t even have been as close as it was. The Cavaliers were ravaged with injuries to key players, notably Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao, while the Warriors had a full roster to select from. The Cavaliers, of course, had the self-professed (and who can really argue with him) “best player in the world” in LeBron James and that was almost enough to win the title. Almost.
So what was it that made the Warriors roll through the Cavs in Game 4 in Quicken Loans Arena? Was it the insertion of Andre Igoudala into the starting lineup over Andrew Bogut? Was it the short turnaround after Game 3 and the lack of energy from the Cavs? Could it have been the Warriors are finally proving what everyone says that they are just better than the Cavs? It’s possible that it could be a touch of them all.
Let’s be honest here. The Golden State Warriors have been blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers in two straight games. Or at least they would have, if the Cavs had even a second player who was worth something resembling a max contract. The scores may have read 100-108, 95-93 and 96-91, but Cleveland has dominated the games through the intensity of their role players. At the start of the season, who would have believed that, even playing alongside LeBron, Mosgov (finally shedding the image of that Blake Griffin dunk), Dellavedova and JR Smith would be leading a team that won 67 regular season games in the NBA finals?