IRONICALLY I was typing up an article on which team out of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams had combined to go 21-0 as the Cavs went into Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Golden State is on another level, but the past straight 10 wins had the Cavs gathering plenty of momentum as perhaps the best team in the league. One second half collapse and an Avery Bradley game winner later those claims have been halted in their tracks. For the Cavs though it may have been exactly what they needed.
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I’LL tell you one thing the Celtics have some god damn heart. After losing their star guard Isaiah Thomas and losing in record fashion on their own court a few nights ago, they could have been forgiven for calling it quits and giving up for the rest of the series. Instead they stormed back from a huge deficit to steal Game 3 from Lebron and Co in their building.
THERE was an air of confidence surrounding this Cleveland team after scoring 116.3 points a game over the first 10 playoff matches. There offensive versatility led by Lebron James and a barrage of three pointers had them looking like they were performing at peak levels. Although deceivingly not all is well in ‘The Land’. Defensively the Cavs have given up 102.9 PPG in the playoffs ranking them 7th out of the 16 playoff teams for PPG allowed. These post season defense issues aren’t a new for Cleveland though. Over the course of the regular season they allowed the 20th most points a night at 107.2 while regularly struggling to find consistency and way too often losing in embarrassing fashion to inferior competition.
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SUCH collapses as witnessed in Game 3 have been on display recently for the Cavaliers. At the start of April facing an Atlanta team without their starting five and up by nine in the 3rd quarter things were supposedly done. However, the Hawks caught fire and churned out a 14 point win. Just two nights later and up 26 in THE FOURTH QUARTER, once again to Atlanta, the Cavs had a brain fart and lost in overtime. In fact even earlier in the playoffs they allowed an average Indiana team to score 74 in the 1st half during Round 1. The latest defensive travesty saw the Cavaliers outscored by Boston to lose the game after holding a 77-56 advantage. These aren’t exactly the storylines you want to hear from a supposed championship calibre team. And just imagine the kind of lead this squad could blow to the offensive juggernaut that is Golden State? Sheesh.
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A reality check in Game 3 isn’t all bad though, in fact I think it will help the Cavs moving forward. Their issues on the defensive side of the ball are definitely the biggest unknown surrounding this team and they can’t afford to have lapses like they did against Boston when they inevitably meet the Warriors in the Finals. Part of the reason that the Dubs are such a scary team to face is because of their defensive talents. They are able to deploy a number of different lineups and matchups to throw opponents off centered around the versatility of likely Defensive player of the Year, Draymond Green. Cleveland’s offense will be up to the task, but their defense can’t be the same type of inconsistent if they plan on winning four out of seven against this team.
THINGS were peachy after 10 playoff games for the Cavs, but now they have been issued a reminder that they can’t get cocky or over confident. The East playoffs are an entire differnt prospect compared to facing the Warriors. They will enter the Finals underdogs and the Dubs deserve the title of favourites. Cleveland will need to execute offensively and most improtantly defensively to perfection if they want to upset Golden State. Sound familiar though?
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