…Or has Cleveland just #givenup?

By Andrew J Pridgen

In a text exchange last night with a couple buddies, one mentioned that if he didn’t know better he’d think judging by the performance of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Game 2 that Vegas got a hold of them and they were rolling over in exchange for one of those giant street piña coladas and a voucher at The Buffet at Wynn.

To which another friend on the thread promptly responded: No, nobody loses this bad on purpose when they’re on the take.

Such is the story line for the N.B.A. Finals thus far. The Warriors were taken to the brink of elimination by a surging OKC in the West while in the East, the Cavs had a relatively uneventful and restful walk through the postseason going 12-2. But after two games, only one team seems ready for the fight.

The Cavs fell to down 2-0 in the Finals following Sunday’s 110-77 deconstruction by the Golden State Warriors. Let’s assume the long season plus the interminable postseason has taken its toll on both sides — canceling the efficacy of each team’s starting five. To a person, each team’s starters on Sunday night especially walked through like it was a July 9 evening summer league game after spending the day floating at Mandalay Bay.

So if it then comes down to the Warriors’ reserve unit vs. Cleveland, Golden State thus far gets the nod.

In game one, the Warriors’ bench outscored Cleveland’s non-starters 45-10 and the Cavaliers gave up 17 turnovers that resulted in 25 points. Game two, the Cavs’ bench made some improvements courtesy Richard Jefferson’s 12 points and five rebounds, but the unit was still outscored 40-31 by the Warriors’ reserves

As a whole, Cleveland was unable to figure out how to cut down on turnovers and score efficiently. The Cavs shot just over 35 percent from the field, with 17 turnovers leading to 26 points for the Warriors. Cleveland starters led by Kyrie Irving, who was just  7-for-22 in game one, hit his first two shots on Sunday then started to clank, finishing with only 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting.

LeBron James didn’t fare much better, finishing with a hung over-looking 19 points on 7-for-17 shooting, nine assists, eight rebounds — and seven turnovers.

The Warriors’ Draymond Green led all scorers with 28 points on 11-for-20 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists. Mr. Unanimous Stephen Curry had a solid if not understated 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, nine rebounds, four assists and Klay Thompson checked in with 17 points and five assists. After watching a 14-point lead shrink to six just before the half, the Warriors removed the Cavs’ sutures outscoring them 30-18 in the third quarter and 28-15 in the fourth.

Beyond Curry’s nine rebounds, (see: piña colada flop) the play of Draymond Green was most notable Sunday.

Green garnered the most minutes of the Warriors’ starters and seemed to be in on every play in the paint on defense, and, because in this instance Klay Thompson had a more look first, shoot second policy, was finding Green open for some huge outside shots. One of them so devastating to the Cavs, it literally almost knocked the towel off Curry’s head on the bench.

Green continues to make his case for being the Game’s Who’s Next prototype. Big body, lengthy, aggressive in the paint and a nice outside touch. If the Warriors are to win two of the next five, the off-season conversation will center around how many similar types to Draymond will be sought with lottery picks over the next several seasons.

In the meantime, with six minutes left in the fourth, virtually every Warriors’ starter was enjoying the game from $20k floor seats — and the best text of the night came from Portland-based (by way of Moraga) chocolatier David Briggs: (Iguodala) was laying down more game than he did in the game with the girl next to the Warriors’ bench.

Check it:

https://youtu.be/7Alb-HXUW0Q

So, we’ll see if the Dubs can get just as lucky in Cleveland. Game 3 tips off at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

 

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