The Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors (28-1) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8) was the most anticipated game of the NBA Christmas Special. However, the outcome of this game is not surprising.
The Warriors have proven why they are the best team in the league right now by the way they have beaten the Cavaliers tonight. Even though the Warriors had some shortcomings, such as problems with defense, in their toughest match up so far, they have still managed to dominate their opponent. The problems that the Cavaliers faced in the Finals are the same problems that were very prevalent in this game. This leaves some to question whether or not the rivalry between these two great teams is overrated.
Cleveland has a habit of attempting to play harder in the final minutes of the game when they are trailing. That trend, which worked for LeBron James when he played for the Miami Heat, will not work for this team. Actually, LeBron James is one of the reasons why the Cavaliers did not win. He missed key free throw shots within the last two minutes of the game, which is surprising for the superstar of the league. Kevin Love, who seems to be playing more comfortably this season, does not stick defense when it is really needed. That was shown in the lack of his defense against Draymond Green, who is arguably the most versatile player in the league. That is how the Warriors were able to get some of those open looks. J.R. Smith hit some clutch shots throughout the game, but even that was not enough. However, LeBron James is still the dominant player on the team and seems to be the only one who steps up his game when he needs to.
If the Cavaliers keep playing like this, I do not think that there will be a strong rivalry between the two teams. Yes, the Warriors would have to play harder than they usually would, but that doesn’t really hold any value if the Warriors always prevail. The Warriors are a phenomenal team, and it is going to take more than just the force of LeBron James to get a win for the Cavaliers. These are the two top teams in the league, but there is a reason why the Warriors are significantly better. Hopefully, the Cavaliers will be able to work on their problems before they play against the Warriors again on January 18.
Spark Sports NBA Analyst