The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are favored to meet in the NBA Finals for the third straight year, but they couldn’t have opened the 2016-17 season any differently. The Cavs beat the Knicks by 29 points, with LeBron James going off for a triple double, while the Warriors lost to the Spurs by 29 points, this after shooting just 7-of-33 (21.2 percent) from three-point range.
We’ll start with the Cavs, who were led, as always, by James, who had 19 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in a 117-18 win over New York.
“Very few people on the planet are having more fun right now than LeBron James,” HoopsCritic.com & Sirius XM NBA Radio host Brian Geltzeiler said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He brought the title home to Cleveland, and somehow, some way, the dude wins the greatest title that an all-time great player has ever won. Think about it. He came back from a 3-1 deficit to win a Game 7 on the road in the NBA Finals against the team that set the single-season win record. It doesn’t get any better than that. And he still comes into the season and he’s an underdog. Could it be any better than him? He’s having so much fun. It’s funny because everyone is talking about the Warriors; the Cavs are going to be destroying people this year.”
The Warriors, meanwhile, had no answers in a 129-100 loss to the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 61 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and six steals, while Golden State looked lost offensively.
Not that Geltzeiler was too upset about that.
“I’m embracing this Warriors-as-the-villains thing,” he said. “I think that Durant going there creates that scenario. I think Draymond plays into it perfectly. But I have some concerns about the Warriors that go beyond the talent. You saw it last year in the Finals. To me, it’s what lost Game 7 for them was their inability to check the hot-dog stuff – the behind-the-back passes. This is the best bad-shot-making team I’ve ever seen. They’re still bad shots and when you get into a situation against really good teams that will defend the arc aggressively and (you) continue to take these bad shots, hot dogs are not going to go in. The Warriors can be a regular-season juggernaut, but the shot selection is still somewhat shoddy, you still see some of the behind-the-back passes, they’re sloppy with the ball – that’s the stuff over the course of the season Steve Kerr is going to have to tighten up for them. They’ll win a lot of regular-season games, but if they’re going to do what they did last year, (they’ll be in trouble).
“Kerr talked about it (last year),” Geltzeiler continued. “He would always say I’m worried these guys make it less of a game and more of a show. (Tuesday was) more of the show for them. Being the greatest show on earth right now and the team everybody wants to see and the big villain is only going to make them want to make it more of a show, and that may be the larger issue for them as this season plays out and you get into the playoffs. The regular season is going to be fine; the playoffs are going to be a different story.”