One of the best Cavs wins this year? One of the best Cavs wins this year. The Cavs lent the Warriors plenty of shovels to help dig them into a big 20-4 hole, but they battled back and ended up coasting to an easy finish. Spencer Hawes and Dion Waiters stood our tonight, but the defense over the last 3/4’s of the game sealed the win
The Warriors are one of the most energetic teams in the NBA, and this year, they’ve managed to balance this on an inner mantle of tough defense. Tonight, they seemed to establish their quick lead without really doing much besides shoot well and position themselves to pounce on Cavs mistakes. The only Cavs points were two Luol Deng jumpers that came on improvisations, not within the offense. Kyrie didn’t look aggressive, and the Warriors continually ran under screens, which compacted the paint and forced turnovers when the Cavs tried to move inside. Cleveland started out not making necessary adjustments, and they couldn’t deal with the Warriors’ pace.
Draymond Green is always the first Warrior off the bench, and he is a good player for Anthony Bennett to try to model his game on next season. They both have similar builds, shooting touches, and athletic abilities. Green has carved himself a niche as a bench energizer and defender. He hit two big threes that stretched the Warriors lead in the first quarter, and also defended Spencer Hawes well for a bit.
The second quarter saw the Cavs looking down the precipice of a blowout, but they battled back and took the lead. A 18-point hole hole turned into a 41-38 lead off of a scorching 23-2 run led by Dion Waiters and tough defense. Waiters looked hungry, probing through the defense and even ripping the ball away from Andrew Bogut in the paint. He ran the point despite sharing the floor with Jack and Dellavedova, and did a good job of it. The Cavs stayed with a smaller lineup, which spread the floor but left them vulnerable to Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green on the other end, both taller than the Cavaliers opposite them.
The momentum of the first half carried through and the Cavs continued to score in the third. Spencer Hawes spaced the floor out, same as Wednesday, but he recognized his advantage and took David Lee and Draymond Green into the post when they were on him. He remains a valuable cog on offense, and the Cavaliers like to run stuff through him in the high post. When he can pass and shoot on the perimeter, that gives Kyrie that much more interior real estate to gobble up on drives.
The lead would have swelled faster, but Steph Curry woke up and started hitting threes. Cleveland defenders struggled to slow him down, but the second half gameplan seemed to be to cut off the passing lanes that Golden State built their first advantage through. Jarrett Jack came alive and mostly managed to keep pace with Curry, while the Cavaliers’ non-Curry defense was airtight. At one point in the fourth quarter, Curry had 17 of the 27 Warrior points. It took them a minute and change into the fourth quarter to equal their first frame output. A lot of that can be attributed to the Cavaliers slowing the game down and making the Warriors play a slower , Cavs-friendly style.
Kyrie Irving didn’t score in the first quarter, but he cranked his output up in the second half, hitting three 3’s and stealing it four times. Late in the game, he and Dion Waiters played pass the mic and alternated drives, to very good results. The Warriors, mostly Curry, kept trying to initiate runs, but the Cavs always had an answer. After a frustrating first quarter, the Cavs seized control of the game and dictated the conditions, which led to a fairly stress-free win. The Cavs are now 2-0 on their road trip, both against potential playoff teams in the crowded West. Cleveland remains 3.5 games out of the postseason, with the true gauntlet of their schedule about to start. Another heartening win.