This week we’ll see Game 2 of the 3 game regular season match up between the Warriors and Cavaliers. As we’ve done since this rivalry started in 2015 each game has been magnified and broken down so much that we think it really has an effect on how the Finals will eventually end.
But does it really matter in the end?
The December 25th game in Cleveland had everything that a basketball fan could ask for, 7 of the top 20 players in the league battling it out from the beginning tip. With the Warriors losing a 14 point lead, it definitely wasn’t the result they’d have hoped and it only allowed for the 3-1 jokes and ridicule of the new look Warriors to resurface. Kevin Durant looked unstoppable for 3 quarters of the game, and yet his 4th quarter performance left alot to be desired and he was rightfully scalded for his errors.
But it’s not just Durant, and as we’ve seen since christmas day, Steph Curry has been in the scope of media for having a somewhat lackluster season due to some reduction in his game usage.
Surprisingly for the team that hasn’t even lost 10 games yet they are still figuring out Durant’s migration into one of the most high-powered offenses in the league. It’s been documented that Klay Thompson wasn’t going to be giving up any shots this year, so by default the one who takes the hit is Curry.
However, lately Steph has been more aggressive lifting his scoring average and assists up this season, only it’s not coming in the same flashy and amazing fashion it did in his MVP season last year. For this January game though, perhaps the Warriors should let Steph loose and give him a chance to defeat the demon that is physical teams diminishing his skill. Durant has always had trouble against LeBron and that in itself is a demon that KD may never shake, but that is greatness at your doorstep for the entire 48 minutes. Steph needs to develop some sort of remedy to Kyrie continuously getting the better of him and one way to do so is destroy your match-up offensively.
Destroying your match-up is something LeBron thrives on, and if you haven’t noticed by now, when LeBron’s in your arena and the game has stakes involved you can best bet that the road can’t hold back James. For the Cavaliers, the game plan is simple and it’s been simple since the Finals – beat down the Warriors physically, mentally and then play your game. The Cavaliers may have just gifted the NBA the blueprint on how to give the Warriors trouble, but only a few teams can actually execute this feat of “bully ball” or just enough physicality to wear down the Warriors.
The Warriors and Cavaliers are mental competitors like the league has never seen,mostly thanks to the introduction of social media, and yet it’s definitely something the Cavs have taken and ran with without letting up anytime soon. The Warriors may pretend they don’t hear, but the reach is undeniable and it surely gets around quick, but this isn’t what decides championships – but it’s still a big deal to the competitive world.
If the Cavaliers go into Oracle and win, do we assess bragging rights to the wine and gold? and if so, what value does this really hold?
The Warriors are a scary team already and they’ve yet to fully figure out a winning formula that combines the absolute best of the big 3’s talents. The Cavaliers are set and know exactly who plays what role and when, the experience and development has 3 years engrained into it at this point.
We shouldn’t really let the regular season showdown swing our opinion on who’s the favourite going into the finals, but for these 2 teams, how you win is everything going into the finals. How you win gives us a way to gauge if you are who we thought you are or if you’re not as prepared for the task ahead – and with June on the minds of the majority of fans, every game matters.