Coming into Monday night's tilt with the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers exuded a degree of confidence. The Warriors had not seen a full-strength Cavs team. The Cavs had played them tough in Oakland on Christmas Day. The Cavs had some success guarding Stephen Curry. Kyrie Irving called it a statement game. Several Cavaliers said privately that they were bothered by some of Steph Curry's comments leading up to the game.
What the Cavs perceived as arrogance didn't ultimately matter. The Warriors are the champions. They can talk. If they can come into the Cavaliers house and do what they did tonight, well, they've been downright humble.
The Golden State Warriors 132, your Cleveland Cavaliers 98.
This game was over in the first two minutes of game action. The Cavs took punches from the Warriors and were down 10-2 before anyone blinked. It ultimately got worse from there. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson hit threes off screens and the bounce. Draymond Green executed 2 on 1's on a helpless Tristan Thompson over and over again. Kevin Love wandered around without purpose in the pick and roll.
Textbook pick & roll defense from Kevin Love https://t.co/C44pGikIIF— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) January 19, 2016
There's no point in picking on any individual Cavaliers, nor is there any point in praising any one individual Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson never gets in foul trouble, he got in foul trouble. Steph Curry scored on Dellavedova because Steph Curry scores on everyone. LeBron James was indecisive and lost Harrison Barnes a few times. The Cavs got beat in transition over and over and over again. LeBron and Kyrie were not able to get teammates involved.
Just as there's no way to sugarcoat this one, there's also no reason to dwell on it either. The team needs to get better. They haven't figured out rotations. They don't know what they are going to get from Timofey Mozgov. They aren't getting enough rim protection from Tristan Thompson. J.R. Smith's defense has been problematic. Kyrie Irving's as well. It's been a top five defense over the course of the season, but it hasn't been close to that for a month. They've been scoring enough to get through it, and played pretty well on a tough road trip. They'll have to get better.
But they have time to do all of that. The big picture stuff will have to wait until mid-June. Even if you think the roster is doomed as constructed, the main pieces will be in place at least through the year. And they should be. They need time to figure it out, and they have a great opportunity to do so. They lead the East, and aren't likely to relinquish it. Growing pains aren't fun, and you aren't actually guaranteed to grow. They'll need to.
There's a line between panicking and despair and the recognition that the team must get better. Let's try and find that together. It's a very good team, that took a very bad loss. We'll see where it goes.