The Cavaliers have absolutely rolled through the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs without a single loss.
After a competitive sweep against Indiana in the first round, Cleveland absolutely wrecked Toronto in four games, and Draymond Green says he isn’t too interested in watching Cleveland roll through the East, via Anthony Slater.
“I thought teams would compete a little harder,” Green said. “I just watched San Antonio-(Houston). I like to watch good basketball. When you watch Cleveland play, you only watching one side of good basketball. That’s kind of weak. I like watching a good game, not even necessarily that it’s going to be a close game. I like to watch teams playing good basketball. When you watch them, you watch one team playing good basketball and everybody else just…do something. I don’t know what that something is.”
Any reasonable person’s reaction to this is to note that, oh yeah, the Warriors have absolutely wrecked their competition in the Western Conference, but Green hedged against that.
“But Utah is still playing good basketball,” Green said. “Regardless if they win or not, I think we’re a better team, but at the same time, they still play a good brand of basketball.”
That’s certainly one way to look at the quality of your competition that didn’t grab its first lead in the series until the second half of game three. The Warriors have had maybe one close game so far in these playoffs and look every bit like the juggernaut they were purported to be.
The Raptors actually had a better point differential this season than the Jazz, who have been without their starting point guard in Games 2 and 3 just like Toronto was in Games 3 and 4. There’s no shame in beating who’s in front of you, as the Warriors have made sure to note about a billion times in defending their 2015 title run against detractors that said that they were lucky.
That said, there’s very little value in re-litigating the old argument about the strength of each conference. What’s important to note here is that it doesn’t actually matter if Draymond Green is right or wrong in saying these things, just like it doesn’t matter if LeBron James is right to say that the Cavs and Warriors don’t have a rivalry.
This is all about the long game, and that game is to burrow into the heads of the opposition to hopefully gain a one percent advantage in a prospective Finals matchup. There’s almost no statement that anybody on the Warriors or Cavaliers can make about the other that shouldn’t be processed through a cynical filter.
The margins are unbelievably tight, and these are two of the pettiest teams in league history. It’s part of what makes them such an unbelievable rivalry. As Tyronn Lue noted, there’s real disdain between the two teams, even if they respect each others’ talent on the court.
Poking the bear is part of the fun, and Draymond certainly stepped back into that realm with his comments. We’ll see how the Cavaliers react (because they almost certainly will.)