Boy, that was anticlimactic. It took only 5 games for the Warriors to dispatch LeBron and the Cavs like they have every other team this playoff. We were all hoping for something as dramatic as last year but we were stuck with a trash-talking Rihanna and JR Smith deleted tweets to keep us interested. All in all, it was a pathetic showing for the NBA and the sport of basketball.
After such a miserable display from a team that is one year removed from overcoming a 3-1 deficit, these Finals left every NBA fan scratching their heads. Somehow the anti-Warriors were manhandled by the team they were designed to beat. So this leaves the question…
Did the Cavaliers lose or did the Warriors win?
Was LeBron and Co. simply outmatched despite their greatest efforts or did they blow it?
Most would agree that LeBron did everything he could, being the first player ever to average a triple double in the Finals and that a team as unstoppable as the Warriors were simply not to be stopped. LeBron needed more help than just a jittery Kyrie and spotty Kevin Love. But that’s not necessarily the case in this one.
The Cavs without a doubt have the talent to stand up to this Warriors team. Despite the Warriors adding Kevin Durant, the Cavaliers still boast a top tier Big Three on top of the best bench in the league. But in the end, what killed them was their effort and horrid defense.
The defense has always stuck out like a sore thumb all season. But in these Finals, the defense was hot garbage against such a free-flowing and uptempo offense of the Warriors. The rotations were horrible with little effort and sometimes no one tried to stop someone from scoring and they didn’t even attempt to hide it.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following play. The Cavaliers are up by 6 a few minutes into the second. David West (mind you is 36 years of age) takes the pass from Durant and misses the tough floater. Tristan Thompson proceeds to miss the easy rebound and West then scores on the hook shot. Thompson allowed Draymond Green to get right beneath the basket to allow the tip. If he boxes out here, Green wouldn’t be there for the tip and the Cavs get the ball back and are still up by six.
And this lack of defensive effort isn’t solely on the role players’ shoulders-even Cleveland’s savior LeBron James is guilty of this.
This play is the sole entity of why the Cavaliers lost. Durant rips it from Kyrie, Iguodala scoops it up and runs the length of the court untouched with both Kevin Love and LeBron literally a foot away from the basket. A team simply can not win with this terrible defensive effort. LeBron easily could have blocked Iggy there or at the very least got in his way to slow him down and mess the shot up.
But he and Love just stand there and watch. It’s simple to see the lack of any energy on the defensive side and that’s what drowned the Cavs. In these Finals, the Cavs were attempting to down arguably the greatest offensive team of all time.
This amount of effort, especially from the top half of their roster, can not be tolerated on such a large stage. Cleveland had their chances however they simply were not going to win without trying.