Fortunately for Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors, there was no last-second heart breaker this time around, unlike their previous two meetings against the Cleveland Cavaliers which were won by Irving’s heart-smashing shot. This time around the Warriors made a statement –they are still the best team in the NBA. Yes folks, the Warriors dismantled the Cavs in a 126-91 victory at Oracle Arena. That victory improved the Warriors’ record to 35-6. It may be too early in the season to declare that the Warriors will reclaim the NBA title they lost to the Cavs after blowing a 3-1 lead during last season’s Finals, but if the Warriors can play every single game like they played against the Cavs, I see no reason why they won’t reclaim the championship assuming they reach the Finals for the third consecutive year. So how did Steph Curry and the rest of the Warriors destroy a Cavs team which recently added Kyle Korver to their roster? Let’s analyze the game.
First let’s talk about the defense of the Warriors which contained the offense of the Cavs. The Warriors ranked 20th in the league in terms of limiting their opponents’ point total, however, against the Cavs, Steve Kerr and his boys successfully frustrated LeBron James and the rest of the defending champions by limiting them to just 91 points. The Warriors accumulated more steals and blocked shots compared to the Cavs who are known as a more defensive minded team. Furthermore, the Warriors forced the Cavs to make only 35 percent of their field goal attempts, a far cry from the Cavs’ 45 percent field goal percentage this season.
To explain how bad the Cavs were offensively against the Warriors, Kyrie Irving only converted 6 of his 19 shots including 1 of 5 attempts from the three-point line. Kevin Love’s struggles continued as he only made 1 of his 6 attempts. Only LeBron James had a respectable shooting night which saw him make 6 of 18 attempts, including a miserable 1 of 4 attempts from the three-point line. Kyle Korver offered 11 points, however, it was on 3 of 8 shooting from downtown. As a team, the Cavs only made 26 percent of their attempts from the three-point line, another far cry from their season average 38 percent which ranks 3rd in the league (just above the Warriors).
Now that’s how you defend, folks.
And how about the NBA’s best offensive team? The Warriors’ 126 points isn’t surprising to begin with, as they are averaging 117 points per game, the best in the NBA this season. Steph Curry and the rest of the West-leading Warriors shot 50 percent against the Cavs and scored 78 points in the first half alone. The Warriors’ “Big-3” of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant combined for 67 of the teams 126 points. Thompson led the way with 26 points while Curry and Durant finished with 20 and 21 respectively. Draymond Green had another triple double with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists- equaling the total assists for the Cavs team as a whole. That folks, is how you run your offense against a team filled with superstars. You run, shoot better, take high-percentage shots, and pass the ball around. That’s the Warrior offense we saw during their 2015 title winning run. That’s the Warrior offense every NBA team has to fear because if they allow the Warriors to run fluidly, the game is surely over by the half time break.
Both teams won’t meet again in the regular season but almost everyone is expecting them to meet again in the NBA Finals this June. As for the Cavs, they are still the best team in the Eastern Conference at 29-11. Fortunately, they still have time to improve and prepare come playoff time because whether they admit it or not, the rest of the East has gotten much stronger and they will certainly give the Cavs some headaches in the long run.
As for the Warriors, they look like they’ve finally figured out how to click together with Kevin Durant on board. The Warriors are en route to yet another 1st place finish in the Western Conference with possibly the best record in the NBA which has a home court advantage incentive that they can use during the playoffs. April is still three months away and the Warriors still have work to do to furthermore improve the NBA’s best offense. But as of this moment, folks, the Golden State Warriors are certainly the best team in the NBA.