This was a hyped heavyweight matchup that didn't disappoint. The Golden State Warriors, 27-1 and reigning NBA champions, welcomed the Cleveland Cavaliers to Oakland in a star-studded Christmas day Finals rematch. Both teams played with serious energy, and defended incredibly well. The Cavs were able to take Stephen Curry out of his game, and the Warriors were able to disrupt LeBron James. The Warriors made just enough shots, and the Cavs just couldn't get enough to go down.
The Golden State Warriors, 89. Your Cleveland Cavaliers, 83.
Three point shooting is high variance, but the Cavs tend to have good three point shooters. Matthew Dellavedova, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith are good shooters, but the Cavs finished just 5-30 from distance in this one. The missed eight free throws. The Warriors executed a good plan, and loaded up on LeBron James while asking guys like Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert to beat them. Shumpert in particular struggled, finishing 0-6 from the field.
This is a game that the Cavs were in all the way to the end, even without making jump shots. The Warriors shot 41% of the field, and there were solid defensive performances from nearly everyone on the Cavs roster. A few late buckets with Kevin Love playing center notwithstanding, there were rotations and ball pressure all game. Kyrie Irving moved well defensively, and Tristan Thompson ended up with eight points, 10 rebounds and defended well despite foul trouble.
LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving still haven't peaked together, which makes sense because they've have just three games. Love missed open shots, and Irving had several go in and out. He seems very close offensively. In the meantime, though, James is still being asked to do way too much. Love finished with 10 points on 16 shots, but did pull down 18 rebounds and 4 assists without a turnover. And while he didn't rotate late, he also had a big block late in the fourth that kept the Cavs in it.
It's strange that the Cavs find themselves in the place where they are struggling to squeeze out offense from wherever they can get it, but Irving is working back and the Warriors defend well. And hey, teams miss shots. The defense was encouraging.
I'm going to go hang out with some family. Merry Christmas, and be safe. Thanks for finding your way to Fear the Sword.