Draymond Green called Warriors-Cavaliers a rivalry, and he has done his part to make it one. He said he wanted to destroy the Cavs, called them boring and called their fans dumb.
So, with Cleveland 7-7 and playing the NBA’s worst defense, Green didn’t pass up an opportunity to size up the team Golden State has played in the last three NBA Finals.
Green, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:
Q: What’s your two cents on the Cavs?
A: “Uh, they’re struggling.”
Q: Would you be panicking if you were one of their fans?
A: “To a certain extent yes. And to a certain extent, no. I don’t think anyone should be panicking 12 games in, or 13 games in. However, there are some glaring concerns with them. And at the same time, you’re missing a 30-point (per game) player (in Thomas) on the bench who’s hurt. So my concern would be that LeBron is playing so many minutes right now (James, in his 15th season, is leading the league in minutes at 38.1 per game; it’s his highest mark since the 2010-11 season).
“Yeah, he’s super human but eventually his super human powers go away, so that would be more of my concern if I’m a Cavs fan or somebody with the Cavs or a player, is like ‘Man, he’s been playing a lot of 40 minute (nights) and it’s only Nov. 12.’ But I wouldn’t be pressing the panic button just yet. At the end of the day, they know how to win. They’ve got a guy who knows how to win, so I wouldn’t necessarily press the panic button. I would see certain things and I would panic about those certain things, just because…I don’t think nobody should be playing 40 minutes a game in November (James has played 40-plus minutes in six of his 14 games).
It’s a little surprising Green would address the question. The common answer: “I’m just worried about my own team.” Maybe: “You can never count them out.” Green digging into their flaws is definitely against the norm, but he’s uncommonly willing to share his opinion.
The Cavaliers just don’t care about defense and other non-glamorous things right now. That will change later in the season, and Isaiah Thomas‘ return will help. But neither will necessarily be enough. This might be a team that’s too old to keep up. For now, there’s at least reason to hope increased effort and Thomas’ presence are the only missing ingredients. But we won’t know until the Cavs ramp it up with Thomas playing.
I’d never advise panicking. But should Cleveland be concerned? Green said it well: “To a certain extent yes. And to a certain extent, no.”