Warriors prove dominance over Cleveland

The Warriors let every Cavaliers apologist know that the 2015 NBA Finals wouldn’t have gone any differently with or without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

A 70-point first half, highlighted by a bad in-bounds pass to Leandro Barbosa that became a magical alley-oop finished by Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry going 4-for-5 from the arc, made a very strong statement.

The bench came alive, too, with a 20-point effort, about enough to call it after 24 minutes as the Warriors trounced Cleveland 132-98.

Golden State got the full LeBron treatment on Christmas, with most basketball fans watching one-sixth of a Finals rematch, and no personal fouls being called on James through nearly 40 minutes.

Sure, there’s a lot of people who cry foul anytime that sort of thing is mentioned. But anyone who slashes through the paint for a living, and is supposed to man a team’s best player, is going to rack up some fouls.

That wasn’t the reason the game was close, though. It was the absence of Harrison Barnes, the Warriors still recovering from a prolonged road trip, and the bench playing big minutes.

With Barnes back one month later, and the bench finally logging regular minutes and the starters rested to a point, Cleveland and the rest of the league gets to see a dubs squad that will only catch fire.

Like a Draymond Green behind-the-back pass to Festus Ezeli, the Warriors are almost impossible to defend.

No other team has dropped 70 against Cleveland this season, and most amazingly, the Warriors have dealt that hand to an opponent eight times during a half in 2015-16.

If the first half wasn’t dominant enough, like there wasn’t already a devastating blow sent to the sternum of David Blatt and his players, Golden State started the second half with Godzilla-like ferocity.

Green was inches from his league leading ninth triple-double of the season halfway through the third frame though he didn’t play in the fourth quarter and didn’t get there, while James was still searching for his first.

Nobody on the Cavaliers roster has a triple double on the year. Only 12 players in the league have one or more.

Curry and Green now combine for nine this season.

Cleveland got to see the depth, the dominance, and the intensity of the Warriors roster one more time, and with it, hopes of an NBA title were abolished with 4:10 left in the third quarter and Golden State’s Christmas day point total had been matched.

Sure it’s Cleveland, where the owner of the football team just paid $92 million for promising something to customers and not delivering. Where a “dream team” has been built, and is still no Rocky to Apollo Creed.

Where a hometown hero that won a lot on the beach can only establish false hope at the arena he grew up attending.

That’s where the evidence pointed the court of rationale when Curry hit the 30 point mark for the 19th time in 2015-16, and Green sewed up his 15th double-double and the Warriors churned out 100 points in under 36 minutes of regulation while allowing less than their own first half total.

Cleveland is a match for Golden State like Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton are going 16 years strong. Like Alanis Morrisette and Ryan Reynolds. Like Tiger Woods’ long history of monogamy.

The Warriors proved that Monday night. They let the NBA know that there isn’t a single team in the East who can match up with the defending champs.

And that only the Spurs are left as legitimate threats to derail their hopes for a second consecutive Larry O’Brien trophy. Who as fate would have it, come to Oakland next Monday.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Warriors.