With the NBA draft next week and free agency starting in July. The Cleveland Cavaliers are staring down another reboot of the franchise. This will likely be without Lebron James and the Cavaliers become a lottery team again. There is plenty of blame to share between James and Cavalier management for the direction this team is headed. Cavalier management sacrificed the future for the win now mentality. After going to four straight NBA Finals this team is headed for free fall to the bottom of the NBA. Since 2004 Cleveland has went into five drafts with no picks and made very questionable picks in other drafts. Out of the 25 players drafted by Cleveland since 2004 Tristan Thompson is the only draft choice still with the team outside of James. Buying and trading for championships isn’t the optimal strategy for long-term success. Here is the difference between Cleveland and Golden State most of the Warriors core players were drafted. Cleveland management needs to evaluate talent better and commit developing homegrown talent to give the franchise some stability. Winning now has a downside that Cleveland is about experience again I believe could have been avoided. Lebron James didn’t help Cleveland for the future by not being committed that would have went long way in giving the franchise long term stability. I get it James has earned the right to control his future. Many of the Cavaliers players transactions were run by him to see if it was okay with him. So now the Cavalier franchise is trending in the wrong direction because of Cleveland management and Lebron James. This the first in a series of pieces where I will document how this situation could have been avoided and we shouldn’t even be talking about Lebron James leaving.
On the eve of the 4th straight installment of this NBA Finals match-up. Everybody is counting Cleveland out of this series before it starts. It’s going to take supreme effort from the others not named Lebron James for the Cavaliers to upset the Warriors. Heading into Game 1 Cleveland is 12.5 point road underdog. On paper this is a mismatch with the Warriors boasting 4 All-Star players, while Cleveland has one future Hall of Fame player and no other elite player on the roster. Here is the player match-up by position.
Stephen Curry vs George Hill
Hill will need to contain Curry as much as he can. Hill will need to make Curry defend because he is not a very good defender. Cleveland will need to put Curry in the pick and roll often as they can. Cleveland can’t afford to let Curry go off.
Klay Thompson vs J.R. Smith
These backcourt matchups might be the key to this series. Thompson is an elite catch and shoot guy. Smith will need to make him put it on the deck. Smith can’t leave Thompson to help others on defense. Smith will need to be an offensive presence from the opening tip tomorrow night.
Kevin Durant vs Lebron James
Not sure how this matchup is going to turn out. I know one thing Cleveland doesn’t want Lebron on Durant. This is another position where there is concern. Jeff Green is the only other player who I would put on Durant. If Love is out Green will get the start most likely.
Draymond Green vs Kevin Love
If Love is out the frontcourt matchups will change. Lebron will probably guard Green if Love is out and Green will guard Durant. Cleveland needs to make Green a scorer by using his man as a help defender.
Kevon Looney vs Tristan Thompson
This is a matchup where Cleveland has an advantage. Warriors don’t run any plays for anyone playing this spot. Thompson will need to create extra possessions on offense to slow the Warriors transition game.
Neither team goes deep into their bench. Cleveland plays 7-8 rotation, while the Warriors go about the same number of players. Anything either team gets from their benches might get the better bench a win.
I will be rooting for Cleveland, but the numbers say the Warriors will win their 3rd title in four years. Like I said before someone else needs to come up big for Cleveland to make this close.
As I sit here waiting for the NBA Finals in about 2 hours Cavalier fan is waiting to see what our team will do. Can this franchise win it’s first NBA title and bring the first professional championship to Cleveland in 51 years. On the other side Golden State hasn’t won a championship in 40 years. The Warriors have no players with NBA Finals experience, which may or may not play a factor in this series. Tonight begins the road to that elusive championship for both teams.
The Warriors have the best backcourt in the league in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. They are two of the best shooters in the league from the three point line. Curry has made himself a top five player with his MVP season. Thompson has grown each season into one of the better two way players in the NBA. Cleveland’s backcourt story is a little different with Kyrie Irving being limited because of injuries. Irving and Iman Shumpert will need to do something special to keep this matchup close.
Lebron James is on a mission that could enhance his legacy to an even higher level if he brings the trophy back to Cleveland. Draymond Green who has become the Warriors best frontcourt player will have his hands full trying to check the King. Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes will need to keep Tristan Thompson off the boards, which nobody has been able to do this post season.
There is no question the Warriors have the deeper bench in which they can go five deep into the bench. At the most Cleveland will go three deep into their bench. No Warriors bench player is as explosive as J.R. Smith who can go off for 30+ points on any given night will be an x factor.
Prediction: Cavaliers in 6.