Blogtable: What have we learned from Cavs-Warriors in 2016-17?
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 have we learned from two Cavs-Warriors regular-season games?
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David Aldridge: Honestly, not a lot that we didn’t already know. The Warriors certainly have the firepower to overwhelm anyone, including Cleveland, if they’re going right. But that was true last year, too, even without Kevin Durant. The Cavs nonetheless overwhelmed Golden State late in The Finals with their length and physicality, and that length and physicality is still there. Any potential Finals matchup, IMHO, will come down to how effective Steph Curry can be over seven games against Kyrie Irving. If he has to expend major energy trying to stay in front of Irving — the same applies to Klay Thompson if he gets the assignment to guard Irving, too — will that sap him at the offensive end?
Steve Aschburner: We’ve learned that both of these teams, when healthy, have the talent to beat the other. We’ve also learned that LeBron James needs to be dialed up to 11 for Cleveland to prevail, that home court matters in this matchup and that the favorite in a best-of-seven will be decided by which club shows us more postseason-caliber defense heading into, presumably, their rubber match Finals.
Fran Blinebury: Absolutely nothing that means anything if they meet up again in June. It was probably a little bit more significant for the Warriors to get the win Monday night to simply stop a string of four straight losses to the Cavs dating back to The Finals. It’s good they got that out of their heads. But as far as having any other lasting impact on Round 3? Nada.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Nothing we didn’t already know. So, actually, we haven’t learned anything of long-term importance, and that’s what it is about when the Warriors and Cavaliers play in December and January. It’s about a lot of people wondering about June. The answer is the same as every other time this question comes up, though. Now won’t matter then if there is a then.
Shaun Powell: We know the Warriors have a far better chance at tilting this rivalry (yes it is, LeBron) in their favor if Steph Currry shoots well and wins the point guard matchup. Ever since Irving dropped that shot on him last summer — and actually, even before then — Curry has been outplayed by Kyrie. Warriors might do better by sticking Klay Thompson on Kyrie to keep Steph fresher on the offensive end. One more thing we know: They will meet in the Finals again.
John Schuhmann: The Warriors are the better team if both are playing their best, and Kevin Durant obviously makes them tougher to defend than they were last season. The Cavs were able to make things tough on Stephen Curry in The Finals, but that becomes more complicated if Durant is setting screens for Curry, with Kyrie Irving trying to guard Durant on a switch. The Warriors only ran a couple of Curry/Durant pick-and-rolls on Monday, but I expect we’ll see more of them in the postseason. All that being said, the Christmas game told us that the Cavs have a better idea of what they’re doing with the game on the line.
Ian Thomsen: We’ve learned that the Warriors have the higher upside. If they’re allowed to run and shoot freely, then they’re unstoppable. But would that lesson be relevant in an NBA Finals rematch? In other words, will we see Golden State maintaining this explosive pace in June, or will Cleveland be able to throttle that pace and slow them down in a seven-game series? It was highly valuable for the Cavaliers to recognize what they’re up against, and the physically aggressive style they’ll need to enforce if they meet the Warriors again.
Lang Whitaker: That the regular season doesn’t really matter, at least when it comes to figuring which team is the best team overall. My one takeaway was that even after the Cavaliers were so dominant on Christmas Day, I really liked the way the Warriors played against Cleveland earlier this week, getting back to that carefree style they showcased most of last season. If they can play like that against Cleveland in this postseason, the tables might be turned (or at least a little wobbly) this time around.
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