3 takeaways from Warriors' Christmas Day collapse
The Golden State Warriors collapsed late against the Cleveland Cavaliers yet again.
After losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last season, the Warriors had a chance to get a big win on the road over the Cavaliers on Christmas Day. With a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if the Warriors were going to get a statement win on the road.
Instead, the Warriors managed to collapse again and the Cavaliers led by Kyrie Irving and LeBron James came back to take the win at home with late shot courtesy of the former. The Warriors couldn’t get a good look at the end and they fell short to their rivals again. Here’s what we learned from the games.
3. Stephen Curry got shut down by the Cavaliers again
Stephen Curry has had some big games against the Cavaliers in his career, but he has also struggled a lot against them. On Sunday, Curry was yet again limited offensively and he couldn’t get anything going with his shot.
He finished with just 15 points on the day and only hit two shots from beyond the arc. It appeared as if his final three would be all that the Warriors would need to win it. However, the team couldn’t hold on it and it didn’t matter.
Even more telling is the fact that Curry only had three assists on the day. The Cavaliers were disrupting his passing lanes throughout the game and didn’t let the defending MVP get a feel for the floor. That’s something he will have to figure out before they meet again.
Dec 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (32) is guarded by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
2. The world needs more battles between Kevin Durant and LeBron James
While it was Kyrie Irving that was making noise late in this game, this Christmas Day battle was truthfully between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. From the very beginning it felt as if everyone else went and did their role as these two players went at it against each other.
If Christmas is considered the unofficial beginning of the season in the NBA, these two made sure to put together quite the show. Durant would have the edge in scoring with 36 to James’ 31 but this was as equal of a battle as their could be.
While Durant and James had their tilt in 2012 when the Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, these two had yet to go at it in terms of Cavaliers vs. Warriors. They didn’t disappoint and the rivalry is already building.
James got the better of the two the first time and it will be curious to see what Durant has in store for him the next time they play. While James had the supporting cast to back him, Durant just didn’t get the help he needed from Stephen Curry.
As it stands, James has one series victory over Durant in the NBA Finals. The Warriors and Durant don’t need any more motivation than that going forward to try and get back to their winning ways against Cleveland.
Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots the the game winning shot during the fourth quarter against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Warriors still have no answer for Kyrie Irving
if there is a player that is becoming more of a threat to the Warriors than LeBron James, it might just be Kyrie Irving. While James led the Cavaliers in scoring and had the biggest impact of the game yet again, it was Irving that hit the winner much like Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Ever since he came back healthy last season, Irving has been a big part of the reason the Cavaliers have taken the next stop. He’s also a player that the Warriors have had no answer for on the floor and they continue to get burned by him.
Admittedly, they played good defense on him as he hit the winning shot, but it wasn’t enough. That’s two straight winners in two straight games against the Warriors for Irving and they have to figure out a way to contain him.
When they did collapse on him as a defense, James would open up and make the Warriors pay for it. Shaun Livingston, Stephen Curry and even Klay Thompson tried their best to shut him down but it wasn’t happening.
Maybe that means they need to try someone else like a Patrick McCaw or just keep throwing their current group of guards at him and hope something changes in the process. That might just be the definition of insanity at this point.
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