And it’s not even close. The Cleveland Cavaliers keep having these slips, while the Golden State Warriors keep running over everyone, with their usual style and finesse, on their way to posting the best regular season record of all-time.
Maybe in an attempt to copy the Warriors, the Cavaliers set out to break some records of their own through three-point shooting. They made 42 attempts in the 94-85 loss to the Utah Jazz, making just 10 of them. The Cavaliers were tied going into the third quarter, but shot poorly, especially from the right sight of the arc, from where they made 0-of-8 as the Jazz won that quarter 28-19. LeBron James, who finished the game with 23 points and 10-of-20 from the field, was only 2-for-4 from the field in the fourth, and went to the line just twice during the game. That’s a number the Cavaliers can’t live with when their outside shot is failing them so badly.
The Warriors? Just another day at the office. The broken down Pelicans didn’t seem to be any kind of obstacle at any point during the game, just like in their playoff series last year. Stephen Curry scored 27 points in 31 minutes as the Warriors enjoyed a free flowing, filled with transition possession game. They had 30 assists without anyone having more than 5, which made their 18 turnovers seem like a small bump in the road instead of a game-killer, which it has been in the past.
And besides all the numbers, the regular season matchups and the Finals series from last year, the difference between the Cavs and the Warriors can be viewed in the smoothness of how the Warriors execute or transition from serious to lightness in their approach. They seem to be able to turn up the intensity and focus without a glitch. It’s not like that for the Cavaliers, who often miss that extra gear needed to finish games. They have young players, and shouldn’t be held up by LeBron James not being the physical monster he was in the past. But it’s more than just dependency on LeBron. As if the offensive system just doesn’t stick, and they keep asking for more time.
At some point, they’re going to run out of time. Not everything that works in the regular season translates well into the playoffs, but rarely have teams that have won as much as the Warriors are this season (and last season) done poorly in the playoffs. James and the Cavs will turn it up in the postseason as well, but once they reach the roadblock known as the Warriors, and right now that’s the likely matchup in the NBA Finals, they don’t seem to be good enough to put up the kind of fight they did last season.