Cleveland’s Golden State impression just isn’t working. Although, Cleveland could have been anyone in Game 2, and I’m not sure they could have stopped Golden State.
The Warriors lineup of death seemed unbeatable in last years NBA Finals. So if you can’t beat-em, join-em right? Well, thanks to Tyronn Lue the Cavaliers did just that, readjusting their lineup to run a full court run and gun offense. Starring the talents of Kyrie Irving, J.R Smith, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and LeBron James as their pseudo-center.
So when the game entered the third quarter, reality hit me like a freight train. LeBron James and Draymond Green stood opposite of one another, acting as their respective team's de facto center. This is what the league has become. Two players standing at roughly 6’8 can play the center position, anchoring their team's defense while also acting as their point guard. Twenty years ago that would be unimaginable, but now we’re seeing not just one, but two hybrid centers going head to head.
The only difference is one hybrid center can thrive behind the three-point line, while the other struggles from outside of the paint. Well, that isn’t the only difference. Cleveland’s renewed offense may be lightning in a bottle, but Tyronn Lue has yet to figure out what his team should do defensively. They’ve tried to imitate the Thunder’s efforts, switching on screens hoping to stop the Warriors explosive offense. But, with each missed rotation there are fingers pointing every which way. And with all of Cleveland’s shooters unable to find their own rhythm on the opposite end, that leaves LeBron to drive into the post. Only to be met by a bevy of hands swiping at the ball. If that strategy seems eerily familiar, that’s because it is. That’s how OKC stopped Draymond Green. Still unsure of Steve Kerr’s coaching aptitude?
Let’s not take anything away from the Warriors, though. The media has placed such an emphasis on the individual, obsessed with the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and now Stephen Curry. And yet the individual means nothing to the Warriors or Stephen Curry. While Draymond Green dominated the scoreboard with an impressive 28 points (5 three-pointers), it was a solid effort across the board. Curry with 18 points (7-11 from the field) and 9 rebounds, Klay with 17, and Bogut with an insane 5 blocks. Once again reinforcing their team’s motto, “Strength in Numbers”.
The Cavaliers return to “the land” for game 3, but they’ll need more than home court advantage to outlast the Warriors’ historic rotation. No team has found an adequate answer for the Warriors lineup, whether it includes the likes of Bogut, Barbosa or Livingston - or their revolutionary small ball lineup consisting Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Iguodala, and Draymond. Is there an answer? I’m not sure. Maybe that’s why the winningest team in NBA history is just 2 wins away from an NBA championship.