The Cavs didn't push the pace, resorted to their age-old habit of playing isolation basketball and couldn't make the handful of open shots they got. When the defending champs decide to work at it, they know Cleveland is helpless, even if it's not something said in public.
The Rockets had the West's best record for much of 2017, but that quickly changed with injuries to both Paul and Harden. We've heard recent reports of growing discontent from LeBron James' teammates about how the star has slowed ball movement to a near halt, and James himself has let his frustrations out in the form of sniping back at a reporter who asked a pretty standard question about Cleveland's poor defensive effort recently. However, Kevin Durant (eight points) and Klay Thompson (13 points) had good quarters as well.
The Cavs were 2-for-17 from the field in the period at that point, with Love air-balling a 10-footer and Cleveland badly missing its three 3-point attempts. Oladipo got going in the second quarter during a 15-2 run that gave in a 14-point lead. The Cavs trailed only, 93-91, and the fourth quarter was waiting at The Q, which was rocking as if June and the NBA Finals were bustin' out all over and the snow and cold outside were only memories.
A 20-6 run by the Warriors put Cleveland behind by double digits.
Center Bismack Biyombo scored a career-high 21 points in a game where the Magic shot 51.2 percent and made 12 of 29 3-pointers. Stephen Curry is averaging 27.8 points and 6.5 assists while Kevin Durant is averaging 26.3 points and seven rebounds.More news: Mayon volcano erupts in Philippines
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Meanwhile, Durant (32 points), Curry (23 points) and Thompson (11) provided the offensive depth that can absorb James' greatness. Isaiah Thomas had no trouble finding the basket, but struggled to make shots (8-21; 1-7 from three-point range) but still chipped in 19-points.
The Cavaliers have dropped eight of 10 dating to their loss to the Warriors on Christmas Day. The Warriors haven't lost an away game since their 108-91 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder on November 22. "It seemed like the rim just got smaller and smaller, " James said as he bemoaned his side's latest shooting slump, but it was more about the depth and defence his team lack rather than the misses which should be most concerning.
But after watching the Warriors' win Monday, I can't foresee anything other than another blowout Finals win for the Warriors should we have Cavs-Warriors IV.
"He comes and plays exactly how we want him to play", LeBron James said. Isaiah Thomas, who missed the first 11 weeks before taking the court on January 2, will have shaken off the rust long before the playoffs.