The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are up for a rematch on Friday (December 25). The Christmas Day basketball game will see the LeBron James squad try to beat the Stephen Curry team in a face off pegged to be a repeat of the NBA finals last season. Although the match is only one of the 82 games both teams have to complete, fans of both squads can feel the tension brewing.
Apart from the excitement, sports analysts noted the possibility of using the pseudo-championship NBA match as a way for the Cleveland Cavaliers to tweak its lineup. One of the most notable qualities of the Golden State Warriors is their unique gameplay. The Klay Thompson squad is known for their small ball calls - a move that the Kevin Love squad had not been prepared for in the previous NBA finals.
According to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, the best lineup for the Cleveland Cavaliers would be Tristan Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert and James. For the fifth man, it could either be JR Smith or Matthew Dellavedova. Notably, Love is absent in this projected powerhouse against the Draymond Green team. Haynes shared that Thompson might be a better option in battling the NBA champs due to the strategy of the Golden State Warriors.
"Thompson instead of Love on the court certainly subtracts a viable scoring option, but it's important to keep in mind that Golden State is comfortable when playing small and is probably at its best," shared Haynes. The sports analyst added, "No matter what mini-lineup Blatt uses, trying to duel with the Warriors offensively would be the wrong move. Their best play is to go defensive-minded and attempt to slow the game down. Thompson's versatility on defense gives them the best opportunity to do so."
While Haynes feels that Thompson could not be regarded as the better player than the former Minnesota Timberwolves star, the expert notes that the Canadian player might be a better fit to battle the Golden State Warriors more effectively.
He said, "In no way am I advocating that Thompson should start over Love, but when the game is in the balance and Golden State is up to its miniature ways, Thompson's ability to switch on screens gives the Cavaliers stability on that end of the court." Haynes added, "Unless the Cavaliers are drastically better due to their new-found depth, I just don't see a how Love benefits them while playing small against the champs."
Meanwhile, King James himself acknowledged the gravity of the game against the Golden State Warriors this Christmas. He said via ESPN, "It's a great opportunity for our fans to have five games on Christmas and for our game to continue to get so much exposure, but for us as a team, Friday will not be the end of our season, like it was in June." The Cleveland Cavaliers recently won the face off against the New York Knicks. The Kristaps Porzingis team, which played sans elite player Carmelo Anthony, lost 84-91 to the Irving squad.
"We want to play well, going against a great caliber team, the best team in our league right now, but it's not like the season ends if we lose or if we win, or whatever the case may be," James said of the match against the Golden State Warriors.