The Golden State Warriors only have ten games left in the partial-season schedule released so far. It’s been a mixed bag that smells very much like the lower playoff contender that most people expected. Carried by the brilliance of Steph Curry, the Warriors are scraping by well enough to hold the 8th seed in a crowded and confused Western Conference.
But when this first portion of the NBA season wraps up on March 4th, the Warriors will be more concerned with how they’re doing then, rather than how they got there. Tonight’s game against the legitimately bad Cleveland Cavaliers is one that Golden State should really get right – even short-handed.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (14-13) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-17)
WHEN: Monday February 15, 2021 // 7:00pm PST
Draymond good to go?
In the fable of Achilles, the titular hero is dipped into the River Styx, making his entire body invulnerable except for the part of his foot where he was held – the proverbial Achilles heel. The symbolism is one that highlights the dichotomy of being ‘invulnerable’ while also having a critical weakness or flaw.
So too does it go with NBA athletes. Men that jump and twist with a mind-melting combination of agility, strength, and grace often look bullet proof – but the façade can splinter in a split second. The Warriors and their fans have gotten all too many glimpses of this over the past few years, so it was beyond scary watching Draymond Green go down in agony and clutch his knee after falling to the floor with a non-contact injury.
And yet, Green came back into that game, and ended up playing 32 minutes. Apparently he’s okay and will probably play tonight:
Draymond Green listed as probable against the Cavaliers tomorrow. Right knee soreness that’s been bothering him lately. Still no traditional centers available for the Warriors.
But then there’s Anthony Davis, who went down holding his Achilles – after being diagnosed earlier in the week with aggravated tendinosis in his right leg. It’s apparently just a strain, but it brings the idea of pushing through injuries to the fore; especially in light of the high profile collapse of Kevin Durant’s Achilles after he was cleared to return to action from a calf muscle strain.
I’m no doctor, but watch the play:
Draymond Green left for the locker room after awkwardly falling after defending Durant.
There didn’t appear to be any contact on the play.
The Warriors need Green, the only nominal center on a roster currently whittled down to just 10 healthy players. This is, of course, part of the gig. Being available if you’re medically cleared to play is part of the deal. And while doctors would certainly never put their stamp on a player they didn’t think was honestly okay, there’s a fair amount of uncertainty in all of this.
The Warriors need Green right now, and not just because of the thin roster. Green – the only player in NBA history to have a triple-double that didn’t include points – marshals the defense while also leading the team in assists. He’s a dynamic player that isn’t replaceable. And that goes doubly so for a top heavy Warriors roster that has been more than decimated by injuries and underperformers.
There’s no easy answer here. But seeing Green come back into that last game, and seeing that he’s clear to play tonight, makes me nervous. I use to always laugh at my Mom telling me to be careful on my skateboard (because there’s no careful way to launch yourself off a home-made ramp), but I’m feeling some of that same matronly energy for Green right now. My heart can’t handle watching another Warriors go down to an injury.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are not doing so well
Our old friends, the Cavs are having a rough go of it this season. Without Kevin Love (calf), or Larry Nance jr. (finger), the Cavs have landed themselves smack in the middle of a rebuild. As they work to develop their young talent though, there’s a period of pain to go through as they fish themselves out of the classic bloated contracts aftermath of a LeBron James departure.
It’s a whole laundry list of issues in Cleveland right now. They have the league’s worst offense, and eighth-worst defense. Cleveland has the league’s lowest three-point attempt rate on offense, and gives up the best eFG% to their opponents. The Cavs have one of the worst records in the league, a negative net rating, and have lost 9 of their last 10 games, including their current seven (and counting) game losing skid.
It’s also a roster very much in flux. After acquiring promising young center Jarrett Allen in that big Harden trade, it looks like the Cavs are ready to move on from high-priced DeAndre Drummond. Drummond was held out of last night’s game by Cleveland, and will reportedly hold him out again tonight, so this deal may be imminent. Via Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Raptors and Cavaliers are engaged in active talks on a deal that would send Drummond to Toronto/Tampa, sources tell The Athletic. Discussions between the two sides have occurred in the last few days, and Drummond was pulled from the lineup in Sunday’s game against the Clippers due to “rest” with Cleveland on a back-to-back at the Clippers and the Warriors on Monday. Multiple sources told The Athletic that Drummond was pulled from the lineup also in part due to his “attitude and play” recently, and sources say Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff has had multiple sit-down conversations with the big man.
Drummond has averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per night in 25 games this season, his ninth campaign and yet another productive one.
Drummond is the team’s second-leading scorer, and top rebounder, but the small ball Warriors will not be granted a reprieve, as JaVale McGee and Jarrett Allen should both make easy work up high against the Nellie Ball squad.
This is a team built for the future. They’ve got a bevy of interesting young players – Collin Sexton and Darius Garland alongside Allen is a solid young core to start with – but until they develop into reliable players, the Cavs will continue to rack up the losses.
The Warriors made a name for themselves by running traditional big men off the court. Tonight’s game will put that premise to the test as the Cavs have a couple of speedy seven footers that will sorely push the Warriors.
Shooting matters, but be worried tonight about rebounds.
In the end, the Cavs have nothing even approaching a viable answer for Steph Curry. Dubs win big, and secretly recruit McGee back to the franchise. Golden State 111 – Cleveland 101.