It was all to be so different this year. The Cleveland Cavaliers managed to convince themselves that with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love back, they would be competitive against the Golden State Warriors. Now they had no reason to think that - they couldn't beat the Warriors in the regular season, and both San Antonio and OKC were better overall...
...and now Cleveland has looked as clueless against the Warriors in the Finals as they did in the regular season. Irving and Love are heavy favorites for enshrinement in the 2016 wing of The Smithsonian Institution Hall of Star Basketball Players Who Don't Win Championships Because They Won't Play Defense (Tripucka Building, Vandeweghe Plaza).
Warriors' biggest 4th quarter run came against Irving/Smith/LeBron/Love/Thompson. That's the team LeBron the GM assembled.— Fast Break (@GSWFastBreak) June 11, 2016
Kevin Love And Kyrie Irving Got Eaten Up Against The Warriors (link)Cleveland's only win this year came with Love out, and of course they gave the Warriors some trouble in last year's Finals without either Love or Irving. The reality is that you can't beat Golden State without a focused team effort on defense, and everyone but the Cavaliers seems to understand this. OKC made the commitment and took Golden State all the way to death's door. At this point Cleveland's best chance might be to start their best defensive team, with Irving as 6th man and Kevin Love in the David Lee role. But that won't happen because Kyrie and Kevin are special stars.
It's in the nature of star-mind to blame everyone but oneself, and the Cavs are now working overtime on that:
Remember This (Warriors 108, Cavaliers 97) (link)
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, it looks like help is on the way, and I could not be happier for them:
Carmelo Anthony may be LeBron James’ missing piece (link)