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The Cavs, The Warriors, and The Art of War

Well, damn it. How did the Thunder choke away a 3-1 series lead?

The Finals are here and our Cleveland Cavaliers are taking on last year's foe, the Golden State Warriors. Because of what I talked about on Monday ahead of the Game 7 that got Golden State here, this could go really good or really bad.

I know: No shit. Championship series. You either win and are champs, or lose and are runners-up. No one wants to be the runner-up.

But there are degrees of bad. Think of it like this:

We could lose the championship.
We would continue the streak without winning a championship.
Lebron's legacy would take a hit.
We have to lose to Golden State and watch those pricks celebrate.

Yeah, this could go really bad.

Okay, but this could go very good for the same reasons, just in reverse: Champs; streak over; legacy secured; GS would lose and those pricks would have to hang their heads in defeat.

Yeah, this could go really good.

But what way will it go?

Some people think one of these teams will win this series easy. Some Prediction Machine said Warriors in 5. I say f*** that machine.

A few locals have said Cavs in 5, maybe 6. Not sure if they're homers or really see it that way, but it is out there.

Some people think this is going to be one of the best NBA Finals in history. I tend to go that way. But which team will win? I'm not bold enough to say. But I do like the Cavs chances. They're better balanced than Golden State and can put up a lot of points, too. But enough to top the Warriors?

You have a team whose offense is one of the most dangerous that's been seen in awhile. The Steph Curry/Klay Thompson duo is almost unguardable. They can shoot looooooonnnggggg-distance threes in a catch-and-shoot.

They aren't the only shooters this team has. Draymond Green can shoot, so can Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes.

And if you try and crowd them on the perimeter....well, did anyone watch Toronto try to do that against the Cavs in the beginning of the previous series? It was ugly. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving went to the hole at will, James making 11 of 13 shots and Irving was 10 of 14 inside the 3-point line. Cleveland won that game by 31.

The same would happen with Golden State. If you crowd Curry, he can flash right by you. Green would punish you by racing inside and hammering anyone foolish enough to rotate over.

That right there is the only real negative with the Warriors, though it's an enormous negative. No lead is safe. No total is too high.

The Warriors have their own Big Three, three guys that can kill you from all over the court: In the paint, from the 3-point line, heck, from somewhere in the parking lot, if you're not careful. How in the world do you stop them?

Well, I think you need to focus, not on stopping all three, but stopping just one. And it's not the Association's MVP Curry, nor is it his Splash brother Thompson.

If you want to stop the Warriors, you need to shut down Draymond Green. I think that's the key.

Look, I'm not saying you leave Curry and Thompson open. But you're not going to stop them from shooting. The key is Green.

First of all, he is far and away their best defender. The Warriors are not a bad defensive team, but they're pretty middle of the road, and so much of that comes from or because of Green. He's also a powerhouse in the paint.

Curry is dangerous as he is very fast and a wonderful ball handler. Going to the rim is not really his thing unless you give him the lane or get too close. If you can stay in front of him, he'll pull up. Same with Thompson. You play those guys right, and they become a jump-shooting team. Okay, jump-shooters who can hit you for 70 points, but still by making them hit lower-percentage shots.

It's Green who keeps you honest.

But the best example of this was in the Western Conference Finals games 3 and 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In Game 3, Green was 1 for 9 with 4 turnovers. He had 4 rebounds. His +/- was minus-43!

Game 4 he, again, made one shot, this time on only seven shots, turned the ball over six times, and his +/- was -30.

So, for two games, his line was 2 for 16 from the field (12.5%), 5 assists, and 10 turnovers. And a +/- of MINUS-SEVENTY-THREE! The Warriors lost those two games by a combined 52 points.

Wow.

It's not typical of Green, but it shows what can happen when he's neutralized.

Heck, the easiest way to completely stop him, at least for a game, is to get him to commit a technical foul. He's suspended for a game if he does. I have to think that he'll want to be careful, but so what? That only gets him off his game.

I say swarm him, get under his skin, annoy him. What was it Sun Tzu said? "If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him." Yes. Yes yes yes. Irritate, irritate, irritate.

The Warriors will not fall over. But in those two blowout loses where Green was taken out of the game, that backcourt combined for 42 and 45. Would anyone be happy with those two only scoring 43 points if Green can only get you 6? A Big Three that can only put up 50 points in a game is playing for a team that is going to get crushed.

We saw this in our two losses to the Toronto Raptors. We were missing one of our Big Three: Kevin Love. If Green is Golden States possible Achilles Heel, Love is ours. He has to get going for this to work. If we shut down Green and Love decides to falter, it's back to a shootout. I do not want to have a shootout with Golden State. We can win a shootout, too, if JR Smith and Channing Frye find their stroke.

I really don't want to rely on that.

I'm not trying to over-simplify this. Green is not going to just let you dominate him. His teammates are not going to just let you take big leads without them firing off the artillery. Steve Kerr is not going to just sit there without drawing up plays to get him isolated.

The Cavs can beat this team, no doubt. But they'll have to wear the Warriors down by attacking them, both on offense and on defense. Tire Curry and Thompson. Maybe get their shooting percentages down.

But the aim of your attack needs to center on one man: Draymond Green.
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