June 6, 2016, 9:43 am
It is getting more and more apparent that the Cleveland Cavaliers do not belong in the same class as the Warriors. Apparently, the Warriors already took home the championship trophy after they came back to beat the Thunder. They have dominated the Cavs in five straight games in the NBA Finals dating back to last season, and the Cavs do not have an answer.
In the first two NBA Finals contests of 2016, the Warriors have outscored the Cavs by 48 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. The Cavs would have to beat a Golden State Warriors team who has won 87-0f-101 games four out of five times to take home an NBA title. Stick a fork in them.
IT’S PLAIN UGLY
From a personnel perspective, the Cavs simply do not have the size and length to keep up with the Warriors. Even when they show flashes of a championship caliber team, they muck it up with an undisciplined turnover or set. It is getting too hard for them to score buckets and too easy for the Warriors to get open looks. This doesn’t seem like the shorthanded Cavs team who had a chip on their shoulder one year ago.
You know the story. LeBron James needs help. It’s becoming a lazy narrative but after we fast forward to June year-in and year-out, that is really what it comes down to. He had one of the greatest finals performances of all-time in 2015 but lost to the Warriors in six. His cast is supposedly improved this season but they aren’t showing up. In Game 2, Kyrie Irving shot 5-for-14 from the field for 10 points with three rebounds, one assist and three steals. For all of the fight that he endured to train and get back to the NBA Finals, last night was a performance to forget about. The Cavs have a +/- of -71 with Irving in the game in these Finals.
Kevin Love is quickly becoming useless, as I predicted in my NBA Finals preview last week. He doesn’t fit the mold against these Warriors, as they have repeatedly attacked him on defense. Love scored just five points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field, adding three rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes. He did leave the game in the third quarter and was diagnosed with a concussion, so that explains a low threshold of minutes. Love has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and his status for Game 3 is unknown. It could be a blessing in disguise for the Cavs as they need Love off the floor if they want to attempt to match the Warriors.
Outside of LeBron playing par for the course, the only other bright spot for the Cavs has been Richard Jefferson (yes, it’s that bad right now). Jefferson shot 4-for-6 from the field for 12 points with five boards, one block and one steal in an energetic 26 minutes off the bench. His aggressive style is a good compliment to a style of play that the Cavs need to adapt if they want any chance of climbing back in to this series.
THEY FORGOT ABOUT DRAY
If you are searching for an MVP for the NBA Finals so far, look no further than Draymond Green. He put up 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting (including five threes) with seven boards, five assists and one steal in 34 minutes on Sunday. He is a matchup nightmare for the Cavs. LeBron has been forced to check Green after he torched every other Cav. Even then, LeBron is helping too often and forgetting about Dray. He is 7-for-14 this series from beyond the arc. They might want to close out on him. Just a thought.
Dray’s splash brothers haven’t made much of a mess in these finals, but it hasn’t been necessary. Stephen Curry is making a habit out of playing second fiddle in the NBA Finals, on his way to perhaps a second ring but zero Finals MVP awards. Curry only had to play 25 minutes in Game 2, scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with four threes, nine boards, four assists and one block. He was in foul trouble in the first half, but sat most of the fourth quarter due to the blowout. Klay Thompson had four threes of his own for 17 points in 31 minutes. These guys are cruising to a back-to-back title. It seems like the hard work is behind them.
IS THERE HOPE?
No. In league history, 31 teams have fallen behind 0-2 in the NBA Finals. Only three of those teams came back to win the series. Again, the Cavs have to win four out of five games against the best team in NBA history. Drastic changes are necessary.
The Cavs don’t really have a death lineup to match the Warriors, but if they did, it would go something like this: LeBron at center, with Tristan Thompson, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova as the supporting cast. Plug in Kyrie and add some Channing Frye to space things out. It’s not a fun scenario to think about. Something must be done.
LeBron has to play out of his mind, much like he did in 2015. Everyone else needs to play much better if they want to defend home court. There isn’t really much more to it than that. They will have to rediscover their scrappy style that won them two games against the Warriors last season and even this series by the weekend. We are quickly looking at a 2-5 Finals record for the King. Hope is lost. Only the Cavs locker room can keep believing. We are all smarter than that.
April 25, 2019, 2:06 amLou Williams - G - Los Angeles Clippers
Lou Williams went off for 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting in a 129-121 win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday.
Williams went 1-of-2 from deep and 8-of-9 from the stripe. He also contributed four rebounds and 10 assists to the stat sheet. When the Clippers were down 118-117 with under two minutes left, Williams hit a 4-point play to go up three points. After that play, he made two more buckets to widen the gap to 125-118. Williams iced the game for the Clippers and he is one of the cogs that keeps the team successful when he is on his game.
April 25, 2019, 2:00 amPatrick Beverley - G - Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley put up 17 points with 14 rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes of action in a win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday.
He shot 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-11 from 3-point territory. His attitude and energy provide the young Clippers much-needed confidence. His defense and toughness have helped the Clippers push this series to six games and possibly further, which is something many people would have counted out before the playoffs started.
April 25, 2019, 1:53 amDanilo Gallinari - F - Los Angeles Clippers
Danilo Gallinari put up 26 points on 9-of-22 shooting in a team-high 42 minutes as the Clippers beat the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday to avoid elimination.
He did not shoot the ball well from beyond the arc as he went 3-of-11, but he did shoot 5-of-6 from the stripe. He also contributed seven rebounds, two assists and one steal to the box score. Gallinari has not been efficient during this series, and it is quite disappointing to see him taking a dip from his high level of production in the regular season. Gallinari will need to bring another performance like this one if the Clippers hope to force a Game 7.
April 25, 2019, 1:44 amMontrezl Harrell - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers
Montrezl Harrell played well in a win over the Warriors in Game 5 on Wednesday as he had 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting in 27 minutes of action.
He added five rebounds, two assists and one block while shooting a perfect 2-of-2 from the line. Harrell provided energy and paint dominance for the Clippers throughout this game, which lifted them to a win to force a Game 6. Harrell's only block came late in the fourth quarter on a Kevon Looney dunk attempt, which shifted momentum in the Clippers' favor.
April 25, 2019, 1:38 amJaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers
JaMychal Green started in Game 5 and scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting with three triples in 27 minutes of action in a win over the Warriors on Wednesday.
Green was guarding Kevin Durant for much of his court time during Game 4, and Game 5 was no different. Durant is unguardable, so the 45 points that he scored is not Green's fault. He has been playing well in the starting lineup and there is no reason to believe that his role will change for Game 6.
April 25, 2019, 1:29 amStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry scored 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in Game 5 as the Warriors lost to the Clippers on Wednesday.
The Warriors are still up by one game in the series, but it would have been nice to end it on their home court. Curry added three rebounds, four assists, and one block to the box score while shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. Curry has had a phenomenal series thus far, which is seemingly inevitable with the Warriors' stars. The rest of the roster will need to step up in order to close out the series on Friday night in Los Angeles.
April 25, 2019, 1:20 amKlay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson followed up his 32-point performance in Game 4 with a 22-point outing in Game 5 on 9-of-20 shooting in a loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.
He made four triples while adding three rebounds and two assists to the box score. Thompson is having a solid series with averages of 18.3 points and 2.5 triples per game in the first four games, The Warriors will have another chance to close out the series on Friday night in Los Angeles.
April 25, 2019, 1:14 amKevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant put up 45 points on 14-of-26 shooting with six rebounds and six assists in a Game 5 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.
The Warriors had a chance to end the series tonight but could not capitalize as they got absolutely torched by Lou Williams down the stretch. Durant added two steals, one block and five 3-pointers to the box score. He was their main scoring option down the stretch and really kept them in the game, but Williams got the best of him and pulled out the win.
April 24, 2019, 11:13 pmChris Paul - G - Houston Rockets
Chris Paul got it done in Wednesday night's win over the Jazz, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and three turnovers.
Paul finished this series scoring 17.4 points on 46 percent shooting, both above his regular season averages. He has a habit of increasing his production in the post season and should continue to be a linchpin for the Houston offense as long as he stays healthy.
April 24, 2019, 11:02 pmClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela looked healthy in Wednesday's 100-93 win over the Jazz, scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
Coach Mike D'Antoni indicated that Capela was feeling a lot better and it certainly looked it tonight. The lob-catching big man is essential to Houston's playoff success and could be in for a huge role in a potential showdown with the Warriors.