As the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated their first NBA Title last June, there wasn’t many that didn’t think that the Cavs along with the team they defeated in the NBA Finals in seven games, the Golden State Warriors, wouldn’t be right back in the same position in June of 2017.
Just about all Basketball Betting Sites had the Cavs and Warriors ready to go for the rubber match in the 2017 NBA Finals, and while that still very much may happen, it looks like the roads to the finals for each team isn’t going to be the pushover it may have been the last two seasons.
Cleveland is clinging to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and with teams like the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards breathing down their necks, the Cavs are clearly in their most prone position since LeBron James came back to Cleveland two years ago.
The Cavs defense has been a HUGE problem as of late, including losing to the Wizards Saturday allowing a whopping 71 points in the first half and 127 in the game.
“The big thing for us is at least we don’t have to play back-to-backs in the playoffs,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue after his team lost for the seventh time in the last 12 games.
“I was upstairs talking to the coaches before I came down, and they said we played 21 games last year [in the playoffs] in two months. This month, we have 17 alone in one month, so it’s a tough stretch, but everyone is going through it right now.”
How bad is the Cavs defense as of late? Consider they are the second-worst defensive team in the league since the All-Star break, ahead of only the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now for the Warriors, who everyone felt would breeze to the Finals with the addition of one of their biggest rivals, Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder. It’s not been a cakewalk by any means, and while they are two games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the West, there’s plenty of work to be done.
Steph Curry and Golden State have shown cracks they didn’t show the last two seasons, and unlike last year when Curry was able to throw up shots all day and hit them, this season it’s not been that way.
Golden State as of late have lost to teams like the Spurs as well as Minnesota Timberwolves, who dealt them a rare loss that afterwords had players like Andre Iguodala shaking his head.
“Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gonna come. You know what we used to say. Change gonna come,” Iguodala said.
In the loss to the Wolves earlier in March, Curry was 1 for 8 from 3-point range against the Wolves and is 18 for 76 from long distance in March.
So while we still may be seeing the Cavs and Warriors again in June, both teams have plenty to figure out along the way. It will be interesting what team cracks first.