BLOGTABLE: Takeaways from Warriors vs Cavs round one?
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) moves the ball around Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. The Warriors won 99-92. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Your biggest takeaway from Cavs-Warriors on Christmas Day?
* * *
David Aldridge: I thought Kevin Love was damn good at center, even though he was just 9 of 25 from the floor. He's made it clear he'd rather go back to power forward, but if Cleveland can be effective against the Warriors (admittedly different without Stephen Curry on the floor) with a small-ball lineup, that augers well for matchups down the road, if you get my meaning. But you wonder if Love can hold up in the hole over 82 games and two months of playoffs.
Steve Aschburner: I was reminded of Golden State’s defensive prowess. Beyond holding the Cavaliers in double digits scoring with a shooting percentage that wouldn’t even win a batting title, the Warriors rank at the top of the NBA in defensive rating (100.8), in opponents’ field-goal percentage (42.8) and in blocked shots (8.6 per game). As accomplished as the defending champs are offensively, do they really need to excel at the other end like this? Could be, opponents help to discombobulate themselves in their panic to score with the Warriors. But it happens too often, against too many different coaches, players and strategies, and it’s gone on too long not to be real.
Shaun Powell: Really didn't put much stock into a game without Steph Curry, even though rookie Jordan Bell could see solid minutes come the playoffs. That's how much he's grown. My takeaway is the continuing marvel of 33-year-old LeBron James at this stage of his career. He's indestructible and once more a strong favorite for MVP (how many years running now?). To say that no player was ever better in his 15th season of basketball than LeBron needs some clarification; had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gone to the NBA straight from high school, he'd be just as good (26.2 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game and 2.9 blocks per game at age 33). But what we're seeing from LeBron is not normal, folks. Not even close.
John Schuhmann: There's not much to take away in regard to the matchup. Given Monday's absences, the Jan. 15 game in Cleveland, when Stephen Curry and Isaiah Thomas will hopefully be in the starting lineups, should be more relevant. But rookie Jordan Bell getting the start and 26-plus minutes of playing time (including minutes down the stretch of a close game) when Zaza Pachulia was healthy is a noteworthy development. Bell is the center of the future for the Warriors and it may be that the future is now, giving them a little more defensive versatility and rim protection.
Sekou Smith: My biggest takeaway from the latest edition of Cavaliers-Warriors is that we don't know what this rivalry will look like in The Finals. (This assumes they both make it there for a fourth straight season). There was no Stephen Curry or Isaiah Thomas in the mix on Christmas and both teams play vastly different when Curry and Thomas suit up. That makes it hard to judge them off one game without two players so critical to the potential outcome of a best-of-seven series. As much as the Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James matchup will color that potential series, Curry vs. Thomas would be just as crucial. We know the Warriors are a juggernaut when healthy, focused and sniffing another championship. We don't know for sure what these Cavaliers will be like in a similar state with Thomas around ... but I'm guessing it is much the same.