Thus far, the Cavs have done absolutely nothing to challenge that notion as the Warriors have cruised to a 2-0 lead.
And as Coach Nick of BBallBreakdown illustrated nicely in his video (above) entitled, "How the Thunder and Cavs defend the same actions", defending the Warriors has proven a daunting task for Cleveland.
During the video, Coach Nick described Andre Roberson as "long, quick, and relentless" and that pretty much summarizes the Thunder's entire defense. In contrast, the Cavs could be described as "slow, dazed, and confused".
Or as Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group described it in a blog today, "Kyriean BBQ Chicken."
Yet while Thompson rightly calls out Kyrie Irving's poor defensive performance -- Warriors players are shooting 70% thus far when Irving is guarding them, according to Thompson -- the more intriguing question revolves around Kevin Love (and not just because so many of us were quite clearly wrong to pine for that overhyped Love trade, though I will admit once again that I was dead wrong about that at the time).
Thompson presents numbers that suggest that Love is playing fairly well on defense with the caveat that the Warriors are targeting him as a weakpoint. However, Coach Nick clearly shows how Love's slow rotations and inability to switch onto smaller players effectively has really hurt the Cavs' defense and the problem is extremely stark when you compare that to how the Thunder's bigs handled the situation.
So with Love possibly missing Game 3 due to a concussion, the question becomes whether the Cavs can actually improve their defensive effectiveness in Love's absence. And Andrew Lynch of Fox Sports has already suggested just that in an article yesterday (while acknowledging that we all hope Love recovers soon).
If the Cavs play Love and Kyrie Irving at the same time, the Warriors are going to rip them apart on defense. And with Love often getting beat on the glass, what value does he really bring?...The easy answer is Frye, allowing Cleveland to try a stretchy lineup that lets it shoot all the 3s in the world while still having Tristan Thompson on the floor to clean up all of the ensuing offensive rebounds.
You may recall that Ryan Mourton of Fear The Sword mentioned in a Q&A with us prior to the Finals that the Cavs' most dangerous lineup in the playoffs has been, "...their LeBron, Delly, Frye, Shumpert, Jefferson bench lineup that has been crushing folks...to the tune of that lineup having a +46.6 net rating in a 70 minute sample." Of course, that lineup has been almost exactly as bad in the Finals as they had been good during the playoffs with a net rating of -57.2 in two championship games thus far, according to Mike Gallagher of Yahoo Sports -- despite their previous success, that small lineup doesn't exactly offer much hope for success moving forward and really serves to demonstrate how much better the Warriors are than the Cavs' standard Eastern Conference competition.
Or, perhaps, it helps us come full circle to Coach Nick's video: the Cavs simply don't have the personnel to defend the Warriors anywhere near as well as the Thunder did and it will probably be a primary reason for their undoing in this series.