Cavaliers’ problem vs. Warriors: LeBron James has to do too much; Kevin Love doesn’t do enough

The Warriors have passed every single test that’s been put in front of them in the past year-plus, and Christmas Day was no exception. The Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-83 at Oracle Arena, and it was just another example of how good this team is.

The Cavaliers did a nice job of getting the Warriors to play their style – a physical, halfcourt game – but it still wasn’t enough. What the Warriors are proving to everyone watching basketball is this: they can beat you regardless of the style you want to play.

Here are some takeaways from the Warriors’ victory over Cleveland:

–LeBron James has to do too much. The bulk of Cleveland’s strategy on Friday was to simply put the ball in James’ hands and let him go to work. James alternated between contested jumpers and drives into a crowded lane. Neither was effective.

The Warriors have plenty of bodies to throw at James individually, but they also play the kind of team defense that make it very difficult for James to be efficient. If you take a mental picture of the game, what you constantly see is James driving into a congested lane and trying to make a play while being smothered by more than one defensive player.

Bottom line: It’s tough to see an isolation team beating the Warriors.

–Kevin Love doesn’t do enough. The question to ask, though, is this: Is Love capable of doing any more? It wasn’t long ago that Love was one of the most valued players in the NBA. Where is that guy? Was he ever that guy?

Love seemingly has been reduced to being a 3-point shooter and defensive rebounder for the Cavs and that’s not going to be enough. Ideally, Love would do some damage on the interior – like in the low post – but it doesn’t look like he can score consistently down there against competent defensive teams. And that’s what the Warriors are.

The Cavs might have been missing Love in last year’s NBA Finals, but they had him yesterday and he didn’t do a hell of a lot.

–The Warriors all-substitute lineup needs to improve or be revamped. Interim coach Luke Walton hasn’t been afraid to play five subs at the same time, particularly early in the second and fourth quarters. But that lineup is getting outplayed a little too often, and you’ve got to wonder if Walton – or Steve Kerr – will start to play some starters with the subs … mix it up a little bit.

Then again, this might not be an issue when Harrison Barnes returns. The reason? Barnes is usually on the floor at those times because he gets subbed out for early in the first quarter. If there’s one place where the Warriors are missing Barnes, it’s in that role: a scorer for the Warriors’ second unit.

 

 

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About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz currently co-hosts the "Warriors WrapUp" show and "NBA This Week" on 95.7-FM The Game, the franchise's flagship station, in San Francisco. He also co-hosts the Sal and Steiny podcast.
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4 Responses to Cavaliers’ problem vs. Warriors: LeBron James has to do too much; Kevin Love doesn’t do enough

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kevin Love looks fat and out of shape. He also can’t go blow post because that would’ve clogged the paint for lebron, forcing him to take way more inefficient shots. Love is a rich mans mo-buckets right meow. Cavs have no answers. Lebron now wants to play for the Warriors.

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  2. Kim says:

    Like it or leave it… I love lbjs attitude. He can score whenever. I’m wondering why Jefferson and Mo Williams were not playing. Jefferson is a beast. Coach change may be required to learn or get better results. Blatts got too many good players but don’t know how to used them.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Off night is when you miss open shots. Cavs fans live to give excuses. First you did have Love and Kyrie, now they had an off night. Do you hear any warriors fan saying anything about not having Barnes or Klay and Steph had an off night. We give you credit for playing great D. Are you going to now use the excuse that they have not had enough time together? Please get over it. Warriors are better and you need to learn to accept it. Merry Xmas!!!

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  4. john says:

    pointless article. lebron, kyrie and love, had an off night and love still had 10 pts, 18reb (Game High), and 4 assist (Team High) this aritcle is trash

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