Blogtable: What did we learn from the Warriors-Cavs Christmas Day rematch?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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What was your biggest takeaway from the first meeting between the Warriors and Cavs?
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Steve Aschburner: I was there and wrote about my initial takeaway, the diminished role Steph Curry is facing now that he is Golden State’s second offensive option behind Kevin Durant. We may never again see, except in occasional spurts and on certain nights, the two-time MVP who was such a shooting star streaking across the NBA sky. A few days later, though, I think my bigger takeaway is that Kyrie Irving is a real problem for the Warriors, mixing his vast repertoire of offensive moves with a bravado to use any of them at any time. Golden State is going to want to show it can contain him when the teams meet again Jan. 16 in Oakland.
Fran Blinebury: Chapter 3 in June will be off the charts. But it would be nice if Draymond Green showed up.
Scott Howard- Cooper: That the Cavaliers were the best team in that arena on that day. Lets not overstate the importance of a game in December for two teams who are playing for June. Good theater, but no real takeaway that lasts beyond the day.
John Schuhmann: It was the same takeaway from The Finals. You can be the best team over the course of the season, over the first four games of a playoff series, or over the first 40 minutes of any particular game, but closing is a skill. Maybe the Warriors win the title if Draymond Green doesn’t get suspended for Game 5 of The Finals. Maybe they win on Christmas Day if the two missed calls go their way. But the bottom line is that Golden State blew big leads in both cases and the Cavs have been the better team at executing with the game on the line. That’s a display of a collective resilience that the Warriors will probably have to deal with again in June.
Sekou Smith: Those last three games of the 2016 Finals … it was not a fluke. The same issues the Cavaliers exposed in the Warriors in June remain all these months later, even with Kevin Durant in the mix. The Cavaliers proved they are mentally strong enough to battle back from whatever fireworks the Warriors throw at them. I know some people are already grumbling about a potential rubber match in June, but not me. If they both find their way back to The Finals, I’ll have my popcorn ready for another show from both teams.
Lang Whitaker: Perhaps it’s a defensive scheme from Tyronn Lue, or maybe it’s the ever-looming presence of LeBron James. Whatever it is, one thing is clear: The Cavaliers know something the rest of the NBA hasn’t figured out when it comes to defending Stephen Curry. After keeping Curry mostly irrelevant during the NBA Finals, the Cavs once again dropped some coal in his stocking and held him to just 15 points on Christmas. For all the joy and swag Curry brings to the game on most nights, Cleveland somehow manages to mostly eliminate the essential thrill Curry usually plays with. And for a Warriors team that 1) Feeds off of Curry’s enthusiasm and 2) Has to get through Cleveland to win a title, that’s a real problem.
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