Friday, June 2, 2017

Warriors - Cavs Game One: Durant Ascends

Three To Go
The Warriors have this guy, fellow by the name of Kevin Durant. He's pretty good. Tonight, he was the best player on the floor, and as such, the Warriors won by a bunch in a game that stopped being close in the third quarter.

I don't mean to be facetious about this level of analysis, honestly. There are other reasons why the Dubs cruised in this one despite SG Klay Thompson continuing to play offense like he is a lost Hinkie Sixer, not the least of which is that the Cavs have to play two guys (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) who can't defend, which means that the Dubs rarely if ever had a possession that didn't end in a quality look. (Even in half court, they just move the ball until they get the matchup they want, and then it's clobbering time.)

But at its core, this game was all about Durant making actual best player in the world LeBron James look like just one of the best, and if the Dubs get a draw at that matchup, this series isn't going to have a whole lot of drama.

What else to say about this one? That it had the usual Finals Game One quarter and a half coating of rust on it. That the Dubs brought their defense to bear in the second half, with Durant and JaVale McGee doing yeoman work on defense. That the Cavs are so afraid of the Dubs hitting them between the eyes with corner threes that they let Durant just take the ball to the rack for uncontested dunks om multiple occasions. That Stephen Curry is 100%, back to his old tricks of nailing that pull up distance three that's a bad shot for anyone else in the Association, and that several Cavs (Deron Williams, Kyle Korver) don't look like they are going to do much of anything in this series, because they just look overmatched.

And sure, it's just one game, and the Cavs have no fear of the Dubs given what happened last year; remember, they were down 2-0 before they were down 3-1, with Game 2 a 33-point ass-whipping. But those Dubs put a pounding on you because Thompson and Curry were just splashing all over the place, while these Dubs can put you in the rear view mirror even when the showy shots aren't falling, because Durant is the second-best bailout option in any situation. In tonight's game, Golden State only turned it over four times, held their own on the boards, and had way more shots at the basket than the Cavs. It's hard to beat any team in the Association when you don't take as many shots as they do, but when it's a team like the Dubs that get after it on defense and convert a fair percentage on offense?

Well, that's path to a 20-point beatdown at best. A 40-point one at worse, which is what this would have been with something beyond an ice-cold Thompson, or the lack of rust in the first quarter and a half.

Game Two is Sunday, and I suspect both teams will play better; regression to the mean gets everything eventually, and the Dubs have been so long away from a close situation that panic might ensue if the game is close late. I also don't put it past the Association to do everything in their power to get "extra" games in this series, because this year of beatdowns can't be good for the ratings.

But it's equally or more likely that they just have, well, two of the best five basketball players on the planet, and a bunch of other guys who compete on that level. While the Cavs have the best, and a lot of one-way guys you can expose.

Oh, and also this...

Most of the drama in this series comes from the Cavs being the defending champions, and this being the unprecedented rubber match in a threepeat Finals.

But, um, the Dubs nearly won it last year despite a hobbled Curry, and Harrison Barnes shrinking in the spotlight that Durant just owned.

Are we so sure this series is going to be close after all? Couldn't we just be seeing, well, one of the best teams in the history of the Association just marching through?

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