Recap: Warriors 116, Cavs 98 (Or, seeing the forest through the threes)

January 8th, 2011 by John Krolik

Overview: In a matchup of the league’s worst three-point defense and the league’s most accurate three-point shooting team, the Warriors rained 14 threes on the Cavs over the course of a 116-98 win. ┬áMonta Ellis led all scorers with 32 points and 10 assists,

Predictability can be painful bullets:

So, the Cavs can’t defend the three-point line. They gave up 14 threes. They can’t defend penetration. The Warriors got into the paint at will and either laid the ball in or drove and kicked. They can’t defend elite scoring wings. Monta went off for 32 and 10. Their only good interior defender is Varejao. Andy was hurt, and David Lee shot 10-16 from the field.

There’s really no point in talking about the offense after a defensive performance like that. If the Warriors get those looks, there is no way the Cavs are going to win the game. Trying to figure out an “offensive scheme” after getting manhandled is absolutely the basketball equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This team needs to be torn to its foundations and built back up with a clear defensive scheme in mind and players who can make that scheme work. That is the only way to make a team with this little talent work, because anything can happen in a close game, and sometimes a random player or two will get hot on offense.

There is no way to win games without a superstar if teams are continuously getting whatever they want on offense. And that is what is happening here. The Cavs are functioning as a showcase for other teams. I’ve realized I can’t really evaluate players that I’m not all that familiar with, such as Julian Wright, when they play the Cavs, because the team’s defense essentially functions as the cones in a combine workout. On a team level, the Cavs play defense like the “Os” the opposing coach draws when he maps plays out on the greaseboard.

It’s kind of impossible to write about this team right now, because this is not a team with discernible ups and downs, or a series of things it needs to do in order to win games. The team literally has no identity. Its only purpose at the current moment is to showcase the talents of its opponent to whoever may be watching the game. It’s time to stop working on the Paper-Mache Winchester Mystery house the Cavs have made this team into and rebuild everything from the ground up, starting with a solid defensive foundation. Right now, this is not basketball.

Offensively, all I’ll say is this: you know the expression “you take what the other team gives you?” On Saturday, the only good looks the Cavs got were the ones the Warriors literally gave to them. In the third quarter, the Warriors pretty much either made a basket or just gave it to the Cavs with a completely unforced and embarrassing turnover, because they were up by 15-20 points and didn’t care enough. They looked like somebody playing 2K on medium difficulty while not really paying attention. Honestly, part of me wished that the Cavs had lost by 40 instead of losing by 18 because the Warriors couldn’t be bothered to take the Cavs seriously for the full 48 minutes of play.

That’s all I have for tonight. Until later, everyone.