The Cavaliers used blowout loss to Warriors as a Kyle Korver experiment
The Cavaliers got blown out by the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
As my colleague Dieter Kurtenbach pointed out, the loss is ultimately unimportant. The Cavaliers were at the end of a long road trip, and a weeknight game in January is not the same as Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The Cavs will rebound from this, and will be there at the end of the season.
Monday night was somewhat interesting in that it showed the Cavaliers trying to do some different things … almost like they were using the game as a chance to experiment on the Warriors. A lot of their gambits didn’t work — some were outright failures — but watching the game I got the sense that with the game out of hand, head coach Tyronn Lue decided it was time to put the minutes to good use. He was going to experiment, specifically with new acquisition Kyle Korver, and see what he had.
The Cavaliers weren’t beating the Warriors on Monday night. It’s hard to imagine any basketball team ever assembled would have beaten the Warriors on Monday night. The Warriors are so talented that they have those games in them, games when they’re focused defensively and making shots on offense and there’s just nothing you can do. Especially at the end of a long road trip, the Cavaliers didn’t have a shot. After a 78-point first half that saw the Warriors playing at their peak, the Cavaliers knew they didn’t have a comeback in them.
So they started trying stuff.
The team sat Kevin Love in the second half, as he was dealing with an ailing back. Iman Shumpert, usually a D-and-3 type guy, repeatedly got the ball and was encouraged to try and beat his man. Tristan Thompson got a few post-ups.
And then there was the big one: The Cavaliers kept trying to get Korver, who joined the team from Atlanta a week ago, open off screens. This happened all game. It wasn’t really working — at 35, Korver just isn’t quick enough to beat defenders coming around screens, especially locked-in Warriors defenders. But they kept going back to it. Again and again. Korver attempted eight 3-pointers in the game, but had more plays than that designed for him.
At home, I was wondering what on earth they were doing — Just have him stand in the corner and hit open 3s. But maybe that was the point. Come the time when it matters, the Cavaliers want to know if there are any Warriors defenders that Korver can beat and get open for a look when they need one. So they kept trying it out.
LeBron and Kyrie Irving got enough buckets to keep the game from getting completely out of hand, and other than that, the Cavaliers were content to use the game to find out if some things could work in the postseason. They might not have gotten the answers they wanted, but they got some answers. The game may have been a blowout, but it wasn’t a total waste.