The Warriors and Cavaliers have stunned NBA fans with sluggish starts to open the new season
Going into this National Basketball Association season, there was much excitement and suspense. New acquisitions during the offseason had led to the creation of even more superteams, consolidating the NBA with even more elite teams. However, even though the buzz around the league was tangible, every basketball fan knew the ultimate truth; the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers would be meeting in the Finals come June. A little wrinkle in the plan has developed with both teams getting off to similarly sluggish starts, though.
Both squads have been out of sync, with the Cavs currently at 3-4 and the Warriors at 4-3. The Warriors’ frustration is evident, as only four players in the league have been ejected from a game this season; three of which were Warriors players. Forward Draymond Green, known for his physical and brash style of play, was tangled up with Washington Wizards’ guard Bradley Beal and was promptly thrown out of the contest. While this could be expected, star forward Kevin Durant and guard Stephen Curry were also ejected from a game. In utter frustration and disbelief about not getting a foul call, Curry threw his mouth guard in the direction of an official, and the argument that he and Durant had with the referees led to their dismissal from the game.
While the Warriors still have a solid record, it is surprising how little urgency they have shown early in the season. For a team such as the Warriors, coming off an NBA title the season before, there is always concern about a championship hangover. Title teams have the tendency to lose focus after winning an NBA finals series and coast through the regular season. To continue the historic pace the Warriors have been on since 2014 they will need to reel it in and start to be motivated by regular season contests.
The Cavaliers have also struggled in the early portion of the season, though for different reasons. Unlike the Warriors, the Cavs did not win the title last year, and should be focused on claiming that which they missed out on. The issues are mostly centered on incorporating the new players the Cavs have brought in to the team. Cleveland traded away star guard Kyrie Irving during the summer and brought in guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder and guard Dwyane Wade, to name a few of the new players.
The transition to a new lineup has been anything but smooth. Making matters worse is that Thomas is out for the foreseeable future with an injury, which had pushed the also newly-acquired Derrick Rose into the starting lineup until his own injury. During this chaos of rotation alignment, even superstar forward LeBron James was forced to play some minutes at the point guard position.
The results have been anything but pretty for the Cavs, with the team losing games to inferior opponents such as the youthful Brooklyn Nets. Making matters worse for the Cavs is that they have the oldest roster in the league, maximizing the impact of injuries and lengthy minutes for older players. The team has tried to change things up in order to jumpstart the offense, such as moving Wade from a starting role to the second unit off the bench. This was a pretty radical idea for both the team and Wade, as the shooting guard has played his entire long career as a starter.
These will be interesting storylines to watch as the season continues. While the confusion and disbelief is currently present, by the end of the year it will be no surprise if these two teams are battling for the title for the fourth consecutive year.