Cavaliers vs Warriors: The Christmas Rematch

The Cavs and Warriors put on a show in last year’s finals. And I could talk about Game 7 alone for pages and pages, but enough about the past, let’s get ready for the colossal Christmas showdown that’ll be on at 2:30 tomorrow. Every time these teams play something special is bound to happen, even more so now with the addition of another LeBron rival in Kevin Durant. So I’m going to break down everything you need to know for the game and my personal predictions for the game.                                                                                   First, both teams have lived up to expectations so far in the season. The Cavaliers are 22-6 and have come with a swagger they haven’t shown in the last 2 years. They know they’re good and at an all time high in confidence, as all role players will fire 3s without hesitation. Their “Big 3” has finally come together as LeBron has adopted his new role as distributor rather than ball controller, Kyrie has solidified himself as a top tier player,and K-Love has returned to all star form. In addition, their role players have gained reputations around the league as well, a true sign of a super team. J.R. might be the most popular non-all star of all time with all his countless antics and is unfortunately sidelined for the next 3 months to everyone’s disappointment, Channing Frye has become an absolute assassin from the 3 point line, and Tristian Thompson was seen with a Kardashian for goodness’ sake. But back to the Big 3. LeBron is having his best season since the Miami days, averaging 25.3 points, 8.7 assists, and 7.7 rebounds, a near triple-double, while shooting a remarkable 51% from the field. To put that in perspective, the King has shot over 50% for a season 6 times: the four Miami years, 2010 with the Cavs, and now this year. So yeah, the King has come out strong in 2016. Kyrie has basically the same stats as always, but he’s also become one of the NBA’s best closers and has improved his defensive effort as well. And then Love, who had been the scapegoat for all Cleveland disappointments for the last 2 years, has come out with multiple big games, most notably his other-worldly 34 point quarter where he showed his ability to eviscerate defenses with his shooting. He’s transformed back into the 20-10 guy we used to know and “love.” Now for tomorrow’s game. The Cavs’ biggest problems with the Dubs will obviously be the addition of Durant. There were questions last year about how the Cavs could possibly guard the death line-up with their roster, but they proved doubters wrong in the finals. Now, it’s an even harder task, but the Cavs know how to win and have probably thought of a way to deal with it. I have a feeling we’ll see Love guarding Pachulia, Thompson on Green, and LeBron on Durant. But we’ll have to see.                                                                                                                  The Warriors. The Dubs. The Super Villains. Whatever you want to call them, they’re unquestionably the best show in basketball and maybe in all of sports. They started a little shaky, and the haters were quick to pounce them. But in the last month, they have unleashed the greatest offense in basketball upon the league and have been wreaking havoc everywhere. Sure, last year they had 2 more wins at this point, but 27-4 isn’t too shabby and that +13.9 point differential blows away the rest of the league. And I know haters quickly point out that they can’t play defense, but they have upped their play at that end as well, and have climbed to No.2 in the league in defensive efficiency (100.6), only behind the Grit’n’Grind Grizzlies. So it seems like adding former MVP Kevin Durant was a good move, go figure. But seriously, Durant has been lights out, scoring 25.9 points per game on only 17 shots per game. He’s become an official “dub” by having funny pre-game routines, walking away before he makes the 3, and just playing good basketball in general. Steph hasn’t been as amazing as he was last year, but you could make an argument that his regular season last year was the best ever for a player, so it’d be hard to match that. His scoring is down to 24.4 points per game, and he’s making 1 less 3 pointer a game, but Curry has still been a lethal shooter and occasionally shows us performances that defy all belief(Ex: 13 3 pointers vs NOP). Klay struggled early but has caught fire once again and had one of the greatest scoring performances of all time with 60 points in 29 minutes, though to be fair, any guard over the age of 16 with an average jump shot could light up the defensive back court of Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis. Draymond has been the only one whose concerned me in terms of this new super team. His shooting is significantly worse, which makes them slightly guardable at times, but his overall play, defense, intensity, and leadership. I won’t talk much about the role players, because I already did that in my Warriors vs Clippers article a month ago. But they have stepped up as well, especially Ian Clark, who actually leads the team in 3 point percentage at 43%. And the other spectacular role player is the one and only Javale McGee. Despite being a Shaqtin a fool MVP front runner yet again, he’s become the Warriors’ muscle with his crazy athleticism. I even think he should start over ZaZa and make the Warriors truly the most fun lineup on earth. Now, dealing with the Cavs. They’re going to have trouble guarding LeBron again, and Kyrie gives them problems as well, but they’re hoping KD will give them enough scoring punch to power them past the champs.                                                                      Final Predictions: The Cavs will come out firing behind an amped Cleveland crowd and Kyrie has around 15 in the first quarter while LeBron dunks on someone’s head while pulling out to a 10 point lead. In the 2nd, the Dubs chip away at the lead and a quick “Curry Flurry” of 3s helps them cut to 2 at half. Both teams are pretty much even through the 3rd and enter the 4rth tied. The Cavs start the final period by pulling out to lead with a few LeBron buckets, but the Warriors stay tough and tie it up with 2 minutes left. And the lack of a shooter in J.R. comes back to bite the Cavs as LeBron and Kyrie legs’ are gone in crunch time, and Durant comes up clutch with the final baskets.                                                     Final Score: Warriors 112 Cavaliers 108 – leading scorers: Curry – 32, LeBron-35