The Warriors went into Cleveland last night and beat the Cavs 118-108. But don’t get it twisted. That wasn’t a Finals rematch. And it sure as hell wasn’t a Finals preview. Because the Cavs don’t look anything like a Finals team. Not when the Warriors are winning their 13th straight on the road and not when the Cavs are losing their fourth straight. And fifth in six games. And eighth in ten. And ninth in twelve games.
At least the Cavs didn’t get punked. Weren’t’ embarrassed and humiliated the way they were their last two games. In fact, Cleveland came out strong. LeBron had 16 in the first quarter and 32, 8, and 6 on the night. Cleveland actually led by 7 at halftime. They gave it everything they had. Unfortunately, the Warriors were just toying with them, then actually started to care. And try. And then Steph Curry started doing Steph Curry things, and then it was a just a matter of the Cavaliers finding the right spot to just lie down and nap it out:
THROW IT DOWN, BIG MAN. That’s a two-handed jam. And if you thought you were dreaming, you aren’t the only one. He thought he was, too. “I thought I was going to wake up and I was going to be back in my bed in the hotel, but it actually happened. Somebody said it was like a unicorn sighting. It was pretty cool for me to get a dunk in that situation.”
The Warriors didn’t even play their best game and they still won by double digits on the road, against a desperate and proud team that wanted it and needed it badly. The Warriors, on the other hand just saw it as 1 of 82, realized they may have to exert a little energy, and just threw the switch in the fourth quarter. They hit 53 percent from the field and the only thing that could cool them off – the lack of hot water in their locker room after the game. HEYYYYY-OOOOOOO.
But seriously, there was no hot water in their locker room after the game. As Kevin Durant said, “Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!”
Unfortunately for Bron and the Cavs, they have bigger worries than the water temperature in the visitor’s locker room. And it’s not even the fact that they blew a 7-point halftime lead and lost by double digits at home. It was what was said after the game.
According to ESPN, “multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix its problems and get back on a championship track.”
These players, who are described as “prominent,” but were speaking anonymously, “expressed doubt that the problems — an aging roster, defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players — could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy.”
In the words of a certain 9-time Olympic gold medalist: UH-OH.
It’s never a good sign when anonymous players are talking during the season, especially if those anonymous players are described as “prominent,” and especially when they’re expressing doubt that their problems are fixable and expressing them to multiple media outlets. And yes, there are always questions when players take shots at their own team and don’t put their names on it, but in this case, that doesn’t make the concerns any less valid. Because what the anonymous Cavs players are saying is exactly what everyone else can see – they look old, slow, and bad on defense. Like nearly the worst team in the league defensively.
I’ve said that and I’ll put my name on it. Jim Rome said that. And Jim Rome also doesn’t think there’s a mid-season trade out there that’s going to save this crew this year. You may still have the best player in the world, a guy who can still dominate at both ends of the floor, but even he can’t make up for all their shortcomings right now.
Yes, the Cavs have gone through bad stretches before. We all know that. And yes, they’ve proven they can throw the switch when they have to. But that doesn’t mean it will work again this year. In fact, it’s obvious that it won’t.
You Cavs can con yourselves into thinking that this isn’t who you are. That you’re the team that ripped off 18 of 19 and not the crew that has lost 9 of 12. But the fact, is you really didn’t beat anyone who mattered then, and are 1-6 against the teams that do matter in each conference. And now you have anonymous players potshotting the team to the press, saying, what we already know: too old, too slow, not athletic or deep enough, and one of the worst teams in the league defensively. As currently constructed, they’re not coming out of the East, much less beating Golden State in the finals. You know the old saying, that when you have LeBron, you always have a chance. Not anymore. Sure, he’s still that good. But they’re not. And if you’re not ready to bury them yet, that’s fine; but you better go ahead, pick up that shovel and at least start that hole; there will be that much less to do when it comes time to put these guys in the ground.