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Path of Destruction: The Cleveland Cavaliers’ last gasp

After losing two Finals in a row to the Warriors and with LeBron James’ free agent decision looming, the Cavs are in a difficult position.

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Destruction Index

Cleveland Cavaliers level of destruction: Slowly collapsing

They are maintaining an external facade of power, but rotting from within.

Golden State Warriors impact on their coaching careers: 9.7/10

  • David Blatt fired after ‘15 Finals loss and 34-point home defeat to the Golden Empire.
  • Current coach Tyronn Lue on the hot seat; his goodwill from winning ‘16 Finals has nearly evaporated since losing 8 of last 9 Finals games to Golden State.

Warriors impact on franchise’s culture: 10/10

  • Deadly assassin Kyrie Irving’s hasty, messy departure.
  • Edited: Average-skilled power forward Tristan Thompson was rewarded with a monster contract. Thompson has been a shell of himself since, and the Cavs are handicapped by his horrendous deal and inconsistent production.
  • Edited: Average-skilled shooting guard J.R. Smith rewarded with a monster contract. Smith rewarded them by becoming a Warrior Wonder in the ‘18 Finals.
  • Constant desperation trades to attempt to match up with the Warriors.
  • Top 10 All-Time great LeBron Jamesrefusal to commit to the team’s future. “The King” is heavily rumored to abandon his hometown franchise yet again after they were choke-slammed again by the Warriors. This would once again submerge the city of Cleveland into the wailing sorrow and impenetrable darkness that is their post-LeBron world.

Cleveland’s valiant death march

The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by the historical greatness of LeBron James, started off as the maddeningly dramatic Final Boss that lurked at the end of the story for the New Warriors Order. The teams split two highly contested NBA Finals, with the Warriors overcoming a 2-1 deficit in 2015 to win:

And the Cavs upping the ante by coming back from a 3-1 deficit in 2016:

Last season, the two teams were dead-set on a collision course to meet in an unprecedented third straight finals, and the journey there was filled with competitive barbs:

And passive aggressive mind games, including a dummy of Curry’s body being used as a welcome mat at LeBron James’ Halloween party:

The Cavs and the basketball world spent a whole season trolling a stewing Dub Nation with “3-1” jokes. Cleveland’s championship rings even had a “3-1” reference encrusted in jewels. How charming.

Needless to say, at their zenith, Cleveland stood as a frustratingly gritty rival: the Salieri to the Warriors’ Mozart, or perhaps the Professor Moriarty to our Sherlock Holmes.

But after “The Land” was firebombed into submission in a mere five games by Golden State during 2017's championship series, it was clear that the rivalry had shifted into something more like Blockbuster vs. Netflix, or Ja Rule vs 50 Cent, or perhaps even “nail vs. hammer.”

Adding insult to injury, as the Warriors were celebrating the foundation of a new dynasty, Kyrie Irving stabbed the Cavs in the back, forcing a trade away from LeBron to their Eastern Conference rival, the Boston Celtics.

Does anyone else remember human beings actually declaring Cleveland won this trade?

Around this time, the Cavs also broke into Jurassic Park and attempted to resurrect the fossils known as Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. This was clearly insane, as GSoM immediately reported in this Game of Thrones inspired think-piece, “The Glass Bros.” Reading this article in retrospect makes one truly reflect on how tragically optimistic anyone who supported those moves was.

However, LeBron James quickly realized that his new box of scraps was no match for the Warriors, and started allegedly CURSING OUT CLEVELAND’S MANAGEMENT.

That, uh, vocal leadership led to a desperate frenzy of transactions at the trade deadline, jettisoning the Glass Bros, not even a year into the experiment. The Cavs hit the reset button yet again (this time for real though). They made the 2018 Finals behind historic performances from James, and their reward was a bloody sweep at the hands of the Warriors.

The Warriors now hold a 3-1 lead in Finals matchups, and the rivalry appears all but dead.

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