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Warriors vs. Cavs Preview: Hey look, a team worse than the Nets

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That’s a relief.

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After facing one of the most stacked teams in the NBA on Saturday night, the Golden State Warriors now get to face a team that is emphatically not the Brooklyn Nets. Sure, there’s a lot of history between the Dubs and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this is a Cavs team that looks nothing like the one that met the Warriors in four straight NBA Finals.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (14-13) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-18)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Draymond Green
Cavs: Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Taurean Prince, Jarrett Allen

Last results:

Warriors: Lost to the Nets 134-117 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Cavs: Lost to the Clippers 128-111 — 0-5 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 110.4 offense (21st), 111.3 defense (10th), -0.9 net (17th)
Cavs: 105.3 offense (30th), 114.1 defense (22nd), -8.8 net (30th)

The story

Saturday’s blowout loss to the Nets highlighted a frustrating trend for the Warriors: they struggle mightily to beat good teams.

But the other side of the coin is that Golden State has looked strong against bad teams. The Dubs are 9-2 against sub-.500 teams, and one of those two losses was to the Dallas Mavericks, a team far better than its record.

Enter Cleveland. The Cavs have the worst net rating in the league, and the fourth-worst winning percentage.

They are, however, moving away from Andre Drummond and towards Jarrett Allen, which should help them. But even so, the reality is that the Cavs are bad, and it’s a chance for the Warriors to brush off Saturday and get back in the win column.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins’ defense remains one of the happy surprises of the season for the Warriors, but his offense has been struggling a bit lately. In the last four games he’s averaged just 15.8 points, and shot 24-for-54 (44.4%) from the field, and 4-for-18 (22.2%) from beyond the arc.

The Warriors need Wiggins to be a bit more comfortable and effective offensively, and he’ll likely be guarded by a strong defensive rookie in Isaac Okoro, which could be a fun matchup.

Cavalier to watch: Collin Sexton.

Sexton’s season has served as a strong reminder that we should give players a few years before judging them. In his third year, the former No. 8 overall pick is averaging 22.7 points and 4.2 assists per game, while shooting 42.0% from distance and sporting a 57.7% true-shooting percentage. He looks like the real deal.

Matchup to watch: Warriors offense vs. Jarrett Allen.

The Warriors are once again going small, as necessitated by injuries to every single one of their centers. Which means Draymond Green gets matched up with a fun one in fourth-year pro Allen. Allen came to the Cavs from the Nets in the James Harden trade, and while he’s not yet an All-Star level offensive player, he’s a legit 6’11” and a stud defensively.

Golden State has looked a bit passive offensively of late. Even against Brooklyn’s nonexistent interior defense, the Dubs seemed happier settling for threes than attacking the paint.

That needs to change tonight, but going against a top tier defensive center won’t make it easy.

Keys to victory

  • Be aggressive offensively and don’t just settle for threes all day.
  • Hold their own on the glass.
  • Don’t get demolished in the bench minutes.
  • Disciplined and efficient games from Kelly Oubre Jr. and/or Andrew Wiggins.

Get back to business, Dubs.