Entries in Cavaliers (18)


S.F. Examiner: Forget the naysayers, the Warriors and Cavs deserve this

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — It’s all yours, America: Warriors-Cavaliers III, The Trilogy, the inevitability. You don’t like it? Tough beans. Too late.

You should have kept Kawhi Leonard healthy (although that wouldn’t have made a difference), Kept Isaiah Thomas healthy (although that wouldn’t have made a difference, either).Or kept Kevin Durant in Oklahoma and LeBron James out of Cleveland.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


Draymond: “We wanted to beat them”

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Sure, it’s January and not June, as if that matters. And to Draymond Green and the other Warriors, it doesn’t. Will this one, this unmitigated stomping of the defending champion, the team that stole the crown, if you will, have an effect on the NBA finals six months down the long and winding road? Well ...

The basic rhetoric is that it won’t. Then again, it might. Look, the Dubs grabbed this one by the throat, did everything — and I mean everything, played defense, played offense, rebound aggressively — about as well as imaginable Monday night and overwhelmed the Cavs, 126-91, at the Oracle.

And after four straight losses to Cleveland, the last on Christmas Day as the Warriors fell apart in the final quarter, the other three in the playoffs, any win counted — wherever or whenever.

“I don’t think it’s about losing the last four,” said Draymond Green. “They want to beat us, and we want to beat them. That’s enough.”

And Monday, Martin Luther King Day, it was plenty. If that wasn’t the best game of the year, all things considered, including the opponent, it was a reasonable facsimile.

It was one that had fans begging for more — hey, the Dubs were up 39 and people were booing the officials’ calls — and had Warriors coach Steve Kerr using words like “phenomenal” to describe the performance. It even had the players allowing that they were satisfied, it not elated.

As for the Cavs coach, Tyronn Lue? He was defensive because of the way the Warriors played defense and Cleveland did not (the Dubs shot 50 percent, the Cavs 35 — “They missed 57 shots,” said a gleeful Kerr).

“What do you want us to do?” Lue asked rhetorically. “I mean they beat us. We lost one game ... I didn’t expect it like this.”

Now that Kevin Durant is a member of the Warriors, maybe he and we should expect it like that. The Big Three, Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, is now the Big Four. And center Zaza Pachulia, who had 13 rebounds (as did Draymond) is not to be dismissed.

“When you try to take Klay and Steph out of the game,” said Lue, ”you’ve got someone who can go get a basket for himself, and at a high level, too.”

He also can keep someone, such as LeBron James, from getting a basket, Durant blocking James at the rim, a move that sent shockwaves through the Cavs and generated an explosion of noise from the crowd.

Green also had his hand in this one, because on a LeBron fast break he put his hand, and arm, on James. Boom. James went down, the fans went crazy, and there was a question whether Green might be whistled for a flagrant foul as had happened in the finals, when he had kicked one of the Cavs.

Play stopped while the refs viewed videos, and Green was given a technical, but that was about it. Other than message, if indeed there was one.

“I fouled to stop the break,” said Green “and he went down. Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry.”

What James, who was 6-of-18 for 20 points, thought was that the Warriors are “a dangerous team.” 

He didn’t mean physically dangerous, although for a moment there that appeared to be the situation. ”They’ve got so many different options,” said James.

The options Monday resulted in Klay scoring 26, Durant 21 and Curry 20. Along with his 13 boards, Green had 11 assists, as did Curry. This is the way coaches draw things up.

“I thought Steph was great,” said Kerr, “a phenomenal first half (when he had 14 points and 10 assists). His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense. Defensively, to put that kind of pressure on and to rebound as well as we did, we were finishing possessions.

“We wanted to win. We weren’t happy with our Cleveland game on Christmas Day. Any time you’re facing a team you know is one of the best in the league, you’re going to be up for it. We definitely were up for it.”

That‘s important any month of the year.


And now one that’s big for the Dubs, Cleveland

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — It’s the Cavaliers next. Thank heavens. Cleveland here at Oracle Arena. A game like the one on Christmas Day that means something and at the same time means very little. 

On Monday, Martin Luther King’s birthday celebration, the two best teams in basketball, the Dubs and Cavs, the last two champions, might give us what we get so infrequently when the Warriors are on the court, a game of importance.

That’s not to say Thursday night’s 127-107 home-court win over the Detroit Pistons should be diminished. Hey, the idea is you go out to win every time, isn’t it? And with the league’s best record, 34-6, the Warriors have more than met that standard.

But until the playoffs, which don’t start for another three months — can anybody wait? — for a quality team such as the Dubs, and the Cavs, most nights are repetitive. A slow start, a rally, and with rare exception (you will admit that when you’ve dropped only six games out of 40 that losing is an exception) a victory by a considerable margin.

You check the box score — Kevin Durant had 25 points, Steph Curry 24 and Klay Thompson, healthy again, 23 — and that’s it. Oh yeah, the Warriors also had 39 assists, the 27th time they’ve had at least 30; no other team has done it more than eight. Otherwise, you think ahead. Even if you’re Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

“It’s a great rivalry game,” said Kerr of Cavs-Dubs. “Everybody who follows the NBA looks forward to it. It’s much anticipated, good for us, good for the league and good for basketball.”

For that observation, we’ll say good for Steve Kerr. He worked in TV for a long while. He knows sport is just another form of show business, that every game is not like every other and, as we’ve so delightfully found out with the Warriors, every team is not like every other.

The Warriors and Cavaliers are box office. Once fans came to Warriors games to see the opponents, Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, Michael Jordan and the Bulls, the Celtics of Bill Russell and then Larry Bird. But now the draw is the Warriors. An intrasquad scrimmage would fill the seats. A game against the squad that stole the title is can’t-miss stuff.

A guy who did miss Thursday night was Draymond Green, 0-for-4 on his field goal attempts, as if to prove again there is more to the sport than scoring. Green played his usual outstanding defense and recorded 13 assists and nine rebounds.

“He’s got a little Dennis Rodman,” said Kerr, who played with Rodman on the Bulls. “He makes a huge impact, especially with guys on our team. Maybe not as crazy as Dennis, but the competitive desire is similar. He wanted to get under people’s skin. Draymond wants to dominate a game — one of those guys who just wants to win.

“He’s a unique player. He’s about 6-5 and guarding 7-footers. His passing ability is so important for us, but it’s his defensive versatility that makes us go.”

Green said he’s not as interested in winning against the Cavaliers as in the Warriors playing well. “We want to get better,” said Draymond. “If we get better we’ll win. But nobody’s going to hit the panic button whoever wins or loses Monday.”

For Kerr, it’s a quest for victory and improvement.

“I’d like to see both,” said the coach. “We always try to focus on the process and keep getting better. That’s what it’s all about, continuing on with the work in progress. We made a good step (Thursday night), and hopefully against Cleveland we’ll play well.”

They’ll play well. So will Cleveland. That’s what we want and what we need.


No competition for Warriors; bring on the Cavs

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Cleveland will be there at the end of the week, Christmas Day. That should be interesting, thank heavens. A good opponent on the road. As opposed to these exhibitions against mediocre opponents at home.

No suspense, no competition. And, of course, no problem.

The fans love it. The way Alabama fans love their football. Routs. “Oh, Curry missed a jumper? Oh my goodness. What’s wrong?”

It’s a good thing the Warriors went scoreless — yes, not a single point — in the first three and half minutes, or this one might have been a mismatch. As it was Tuesday night, the Dubs managed to squeeze past the Utah Jazz, 104-74.

As compared to Saturday night, when they beat Portland by 45 points. It’s not a story when the Warriors win, just when they lose, which they’ve done only four times in 29 games.

Maybe the stat of this game was two, as in Warriors turnovers in the first half. If you don’t throw away the ball, sooner or later you’re going to throw it in the hoop. “With the weapons this team has,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, “it is just a matter of time until we score.”

The crowd at this eight millionth straight sellout at Oracle (OK, I exaggerated a wee bit, it was only the 203rd in a row) was hardly kept in suspense, other than in the opening few minutes when neither team could make anything and the game appeared head for a 0-0 final. (As I said, I exaggerate, but it was only 4-2 Dubs six minutes into the game.)

So the highlight (and even Kerr agreed) was some kid out of the stands, Patrick Nudanu of Oakland, making a half-court shot during a break in the third quarter that earned him $5,000. Well that, and a dunk at the end of a full-court sprint by Draymond Green that ended up with the ball in the net and Green holding on to the rim to keep himself from crashing halfway to Berkeley. The NBA is less concerned about safety than rules, however, and holding the rim is an automatic technical.

“I don’t get it,” Kerr said of the T. “Dray was going a million miles an hour. It was about safety. The way he was flying in, he was going to break his neck if he let go.”

He didn’t and, as in most games this season, neither did the Warriors. Now they’ll head, in order, to Brooklyn, Detroit and, on the Noel, the Cavs on the edge of Lake Erie.

It will be the first game between the Warriors and Cavaliers since Cleveland beat the Dubs in the closing seconds of Game 7 of last season’s NBA final to wrench away the title. It will be a big one, certainly, but December is not June. At the least, the game shouldn’t be as one-sided as most involving the Warriors.

“They’re unique on a lot of levels,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder, “and (Draymond) is unique. I compared him to Magic Johnson a while ago, and he’s got that kind of feel for the game.”

What Draymond felt Tuesday night, when he had 11 rebounds, 15 points and four assists, was that the Warriors defense kept them in position until the offense, as expected, heated up. “It says a lot about our team," Green said, "when we can’t even make a layup the first few minutes and then do what we’re able to do.”

What teammate Steph Curry did, after his slow start, was connect on eight of 18 (4 of 9 on threes) for 25 points. Kevin Durant added 11, and Klay Thompson scored 22.

Kerr said, as might be appropriate during the holidays, that the Warriors have become a team of joy. They laugh with each other and at each other, reaching a comfort level that required time to achieve with the addition of Durant.

“The other game,” said Kerr about Portland, “Klay took about 17 steps and wasn’t called for traveling. Our team started motioning for traveling and laughing at each other.”

Most of the games have been figurative laughers. Now it’s on the road again and a battle against Cleveland. He who laughs last ... you know the rest, even if now we don’t know much more.


S.F. Examiner: Fans’ faith not enough against rejuvenated Cavs

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

The crowd had come for a coronation, a celebration, an evening of noise and joy on which their basketball team, the Warriors, the record setters, the defending champions, would make it two titles in row, would start an NBA dynasty. But something was missing — maybe because someone was missing, Draymond Green.

And so the noise ebbed, the joy diminished. The coronation was put on hold.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner