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Preview: Warriors are in Cleveland to visit the Cavaliers’ tombstones

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The Warriors won’t have Draymond Green when they return to the arena they celebrated two titles in, facing what remains of the Cleveland franchise they annihilated.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details

WHO: Golden State Warriors (16-9) at Cleveland Cavaliers (5-18)

WHEN: Wednesday December 5th, 2018, 4:00 p.m. PST

WHERE: House of Champagne/Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio

WATCH: NBCSBA, FSOH

LISTEN: 95.7 The Game

GRIEVING BUDDY BLOG: Fear The Sword

Injuries

Warriors: DeMarcus Cousins (left Achilles rehab), Draymond Green (right toe sprain), Damian Jones (pectoral muscle) out. Alfonzo McKinnie (left foot soreness) questionable.

Cavaliers Kevin Love (toe), J.R. Smith (mutiny), Ante Zizic (knee), Sam Dekker (ankle) out.


For the fourth consecutive December, the Golden State Warriors will be facing the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers!

Oddly though, this matchup is the first of the series not to be featured in the league’s Christmas Day broadcast. In fact, this game between the two reigning conference champions isn’t even on national television.

That’s strange. Is there something wrong? Let’s check on the Golden State side of things to see what happened that dragged this rivalry from “Must-See-TV” level to the doldrums of “desperate illegal streaming.”

The Warriors are getting healthier

Golden State started off the season 10-2 but only won six of their next thirteen games as they struggled with injuries to Olympians Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and rotation players. Starting center Damian Jones is out indefinitely with a torn pectoral muscle, a problem that is forcing the Warriors to eye the return of the injured giant DeMarcus Cousins sooner rather than later.

Until Cousins is back, the Warriors will lean on the rugged youngster Kevon Looney. The defensively inclined power forward is filling in at the center spot and showed promising early returns against the Hawks.

Even without their starting center and power forward, the Dubs can always rely on their super scorers Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. The trio is averaging a combined 80 points since Curry’s return two games ago.

Despite their recent struggles the champs still are tied at third for most wins in the league and are still predicted to waltz to the Finals behind their tremendous star power and championship experience.

So again, why isn’t this game getting more publicity?

Cleveland has Fallen

LeBron James, the hero of Ohio, decided three crushing Finals losses to the Golden Empire were enough. He abandoned Cleveland (again), leaving behind a roster of misfit role-players who apparently cannot walk and chew gum without the King’s help.

  • The Cavaliers have played basketball since October and only have five wins to show for it.
  • They are dead last in points scored per game at 102.6.
  • Their defense surrenders the highest shooting percentage per game in the league at 48%.
  • They are at the bottom of the league in assists at 19 per game.

All stats from ESPN

These jabronis went from the NBA Finals to #Tank4Zion in a heartbeat.

I worried about this sad day many moons ago in a personally written memoir about the Cleveland dynasty that almost was, the Best of SB Nation piece, “Warriors reinvented ‘3-1’ and built a dynasty at LeBron James’ expense”.

Bron’s gone, Kevin Love is out until January at the earliest with a toe injury, J.R. Smith accused the team of tanking and is out indefinitely for being disgruntled. This franchise is in shambles with no clear direction beyond praying for more draft magic, despite the bold preseason words of Tristan Thompson.

There’s a great piece from The Athletic’s Anthony Slater about the champs’ memories from the now defunct rivalry. I love Green and Thompson reflecting on their most treasured reflections about burying Cleveland:

“Ohhh, KD’s shot. Game 3,” Green recalled. “When they thought they had the game won and shit just went south. That was my favorite moment.”

There were also the petty moments, the viral social media jabs, a rivalry scripted perfectly for the modern age — Draymond [Green’s] first parade interview, LeBron [James’] post-title shirt, Draymond’s parade shirt response and much more, highlighted of course by that 2016 Halloween party in Cleveland that included tombstone cookies referencing the imagined deaths of [Stephen] Curry and Thompson.

“Oh, yeah. Ha!” Klay said. “That was funny. Look how that turned out. Psssh. Bums. That was crazy. I forgot about that. Well, look at what pettiness gets you. Gets you 1-8 in the Finals. Idiots.”

Is it me or is Klay signaling “3-1” in that pic with the trophy?

Gold-Blooded Prediction: The champs pay respect to an old rival’s grave by allowing the Cavs to stay in striking distance until the 4th quarter. Then KD, Steph and Klay take turns shoveling more dirt on Cleveland to finish the job.

Warriors 115, Cavaliers 100