"They just beat us at everything - we didn't win anything. At no points of the game did we beat them in anything. Even when we had an early lead, they beat us to 50-50 balls, they [got] extra possessions, they got extra tip-ins. They beat us pretty good tonight."
A couple questions later.
"So I've got to be better. I've got to be better with the ball. you know, trying to play make for myself and play make for my teammates at the same time, I've just got to be more solid."
LeBron James sat at the podium, calm and collected, or dazed and confused. Whichever range of emotions it was, the Cleveland Cavaliers are effectively finished now in the NBA Finals barring some type of injury mishap on the part of the Golden State Warriors. The 110-77 demolition came as close as any score in telling the tale of the difference between these two teams.
"They." That's the only word LeBron needed to utter. The Warriors as a team -- combining Andrew Bogut's blocks, Andre Iguodala's passing, Draymond Green's shooting, and a team defense that far and away played like the world's best -- put down the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I", in LeBron James, was simply unable to do much in the way of scoring or defending. But where is the help? Given Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love's health (at least to start this series where such an argument was still in question), James had no choice but to sit at the podium by himself, looking like the man on the floor in 2015.
There's Tyronn Lue's ongoing verbiage about playing faster, David Griffin's outstanding pickups of Channing Frye, and the overall great play of the rest of the role players through the postseason. As Mike Tyson so famously said, "Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth." This is worse.
The Cavs got knocked out in Game 1. They picked themselves off the mat in Game 2 and tried fighting back. But there comes a time when no matter how hard you swing, how tough-minded and resilient you are, there comes a moment of realization where you understand you just are not good enough. LeBron James sat on the podium after the wreckage on Sunday night, by himself. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love filled those seats in wins against the Eastern Conference, laughing and chuckling through a postseason that earned them nary a worry and even less adversity.
Now down two games in their toughest challenge yet, LeBron James sat by his lonesome off the court, while looking as lonely as he has ever been on the court.
How did it get to this point?
Every Warrior walked up after the game and said the same thing, repeatedly. They each acted as if this win didn't mean much in the aggregate, only that every cliche'd phrase about taking it one game at a time. Kerr tried to sum up his version of appropriate fear on, of course, LeBron James.
"We're not comfortable playing against LeBron, to be honest with you. We're comfortable as a team playing together. We're comfortable with our ability to defend. We're comfortable with our ability to create offense off of our defense because of the shooting and the playmaking that we have."
But at the end of the day, this Warriors team knew it was always going to be this easy. Last season, the coaching staff worried that without Love and Irving, the Cavs would play a style that would beat up the Warriors a little bit, slowing down the pace and limiting the amount of mistakes they would suffer. This season, the coaching staff's fears were proven correct.
After romping through the East playing their style -- one good enough to crush 27 other teams -- the Cavs have to be stunned right now. Their old and current habits are not just dying hard, but are getting worse by the possession.
The Warriors have spent two straight years mastering their switch-all defense and reach-and-react flow offense. It's not a coincidence that Draymond, Klay, Steph, and Iguodala can switch on and off LeBron and force multiple shot clock violations in one quarter. It's not a coincidence that those backcuts off a free-throw line extended screen gets them layups off of pure anticipation.
Now flip over to the other side where LeBron is pounding the ball like an NBA Finals 2015 redux. Flash back one series ago when the Cavs were out there looking like the San Antonio Spurs. The Cavs let comfort fool them into thinking it made the trust real. Now when it matters most, it's entirely too late. Even when the Cavs were winning in the 2nd quarter, they were yelling and waving at each other on missed switching assignments. Over and over again, it happened. Even when the Warriors struggled and failed to take a huge lead, the Cavs knew it was on borrowed time.
The Cavaliers players have talked a lot this season, about their health, their style, their success, and their readiness for this series. Now down 0-2 against arguably the greatest team of all time, they're forced to play a style that the Warriors have perfected. Or the one that won them two games last season, with a personnel that simply doesn't allow that type of success.
The Dubs got a bench win. They now have the Draymond Green win. The Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry games are coming.
The Warriors have left the Cavaliers no answers, and LeBron James is by himself, yet again.