Draymond Green says Cavs never stood a chance in NBA Finals, and he has a point
Draymond Green had an interview with GQ Magazine where he did what he’s best known for: Talking a whole lot of trash. Give Green a chance to speak his mind and he will not be afraid to tell the entire world about how great the Warriors are and how no one can stop them.
“They didn’t stand a f—— chance,” he says of the Cavs, who lost in five games. “It pissed me off we didn’t sweep them, though.”
“That’d never been done!” Green exclaims. “They don’t come out and hit twenty-four threes and they’re swept. And that’s the second best team in the world. It’s pretty f—— sick to see how everybody is just in a f—— panic about what to do. You sit back and think, like, these mother——-, they know. That’s the fun part about it: They know they don’t stand a chance.”
At first this seems like Green just mouthing off, because he’s confident and knows he can do that. Of course the Cavaliers stood a chance against them. They had LeBron James. What team with James wouldn’t stand a chance against anybody? Cleveland had just come off a win against Golden State when they were supposedly the “greatest team ever” with 73 wins, and the NBA’s first unanimous MVP.
At least that’s usually the feeling going in. Even last season when the Cavs looked shaky all season while the Warriors dominated, there was this sense that Cleveland could push Golden State. Never count out LeBron James and never assume dominance at this point of the season. In retrospect, it was silly to feel that way.
Last season’s team may have been the best
When the Warriors won 73 games, the assumption was that they were the best team ever. However, that team struggled to get through the playoffs. They were pushed to seven games by the Thunder in the conference finals. When they advanced to the NBA Finals, they were battered with injuries from Stephen Curry all the way to Andrew Bogut. Green was suspended a game for receiving too many technical fouls. By the end of it, they fell apart and the Cavaliers pulled off arguably the greatest comeback in NBA history.
Last season? That team had a legitimate case for being considered the best ever. They didn’t win as many regular season games, partially due to a Durant injury, and it took them a bit to get going. Once they reached the playoffs, it was never a contest. Their one loss was to the Cavaliers in the game Green mentioned where Cleveland knocked down 24 triples.
Golden State finished the playoffs with a point differential of 13.6. Three of their four wins were blowouts, with Kevin Durant putting a dagger in their hearts during Game 3. Cleveland was overwhelmed.
Yes, Kevin Durant matters
It’s annoying to hear the fans complain that Durant joined the Warriors and it’s what’s made them unbeatable. Durant is obviously an elite player, a difference-maker who decided to team up with a 73-win team to help them win more titles.
Durant is already a player that’s impossible to guard. A seven-foot wing that can shoot from anywhere on the floor? Now throw in a 3-point heavy offense that loves to move the ball around and put their best scorers into mismatches. Durant thrived in that type of environment and his presence was felt the entire series.
When Durant wasn’t scoring, he was stretching the floor, because he was someone that had to be guarded at all times. Which, of course, opened up avenues for everybody else on the team, especially when James sat for the Cavs.
LeBron can’t play 48 minutes a night
Do not let the fact that the Cavs play in the Eastern Conference, or that Golden State beat them thoroughly, hide what Cleveland accomplished last season. They were an excellent team in their own right. However, the Warriors were just out of this planet with talented players. This was never more obvious than anytime James sat on the bench.
In the 28 minutes he rested, Golden State had a net rating of 37.4 while only giving up 75 points per 100 possessions. When James was on the floor, Golden State’s net rating was a 1.8 and they gave up 116.5 points per 100. Cleveland didn’t just rely on James. They needed him. Without him they were outclassed every step of the way and all it took was 28 minutes for Golden State to gain their monumental leads.
James can’t play 48 minutes a night. Even at the youngest point of his career he wouldn’t have been able to do that. If Cleveland can’t give James rest without getting blown out, then what Green said stands true. They didn’t stand a chance.