Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets to raise their record to 29-11 for the season, the best record in the Eastern Conference and 4th best overall in the NBA.
You wouldn’t know that by the conversation in town after Monday night’s beatdown of the wine and gold by the defending champion Golden State Warriors, 132-98 at Quicken Loans Arena.
In fact, until the Cavs beat either the Warriors or the San Antonio Spurs, some people won’t give them any credit for the rest of the season.
It was one game, and that’s all it was.
It is funny to us because the loss to the Warriors is also getting lumped in with the defeat by the Spurs a week ago, even though David Blatt’s team lost that game by four points, on the road, and led the game for most of the first three quarters.
Talk about overreaction.
The reality is it was one colossally bad game. Even Draymond Green, the Warriors’ antagonist, said after the game that they pretty much did everything right, while the wine and gold did everything wrong.
Golden State shot 54.1% from the floor, including an incredible 19 of 40 from behind the three point line. That equals shooting 65% from the field. They normally have a 56% efficiency rating on shooting. So, they were hot.
If your opponent shoots that percentage for an entire game, you are going to lose.
Conversely, the Cavs’ “Big Three”, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love combined to make just 11 of 32 shots, which is 34%. Those guys were cold.
If you combine hot shooting from your opponent, and the Cavs normally allow their opponents to shoot 44%, and poor shooting from your best players, you are probably going to get blown out.
And that’s what happened.
Also, keep in mind Cleveland played the Warriors on Christmas Day in Oakland, and lost by six. We were encouraged by this game because the wine and gold again demonstrated the ability to control the tempo, which is needed vs. Steph Curry and his crew.
On Monday, the Cavs started the game missing shots which allowed the Warriors to get out in transition and they made early threes, mostly by Klay Thompson, who Cleveland has kept in check since last year’s Finals.
We believe that Blatt and his team know they have to control the tempo, which means some isolation plays, in order to defeat the Warriors.
As for the criticism about the Spurs, yes, the Cavs did get away from what got them the lead, and they paid for it. Hopefully, they will learn from their mistake.
Fans and media alike also have to remember that if Cleveland makes The Finals, they will only have to play one of these two teams. They will not have to defeat both.
And could the wine and gold beat either team in a seven game series? Of course. We have always maintained that in the playoffs, coaches can game plan specifically against what the opposition does well.
In the regular season, there isn’t time to do that.
Also, remember that a year ago, the Cavs were a .500 team and they made a couple of trades, and were one of the final two teams playing.
The point is there is a long, long time to get things together and correct the problems, which are few, that this squad has.
The sky is not falling. The Cavs played a bad game on Monday night. They are still one of the league’s best teams. So, relax…