By D.M. Allen
Depth. The dictionary defines it as; the quality of being deep; deepness.
Coming into Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the headlines were all about the Cleveland Cavaliers being at full strength, and how much different it would be against the team that beat them in the 2015 Finals, the Golden State Warriors. How on earth will the Dubs be able to deal with a healthy Kevin Love, and a healthy Kyrie Irving? LeBron is on a mission. The Splash Brothers are in trouble now right? Wrong. True Steph Curry and Klay Thompson didn’t have the sliders up on 2k-esque game we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, however the Warriors have something the Cavs don’t. Depth. Superstars grab the headlines, but those said superstars have to get a spell at one time or another. What happens when they sit down for a few? Your teammates will keep you in the game, or be the reason your favorite players FGA goes up, because he had to come back in and try and save the day. The Warriors bench out Scored the Cavs bench 45-10. Let that sink in… Cleveland out rebounded Golden State (47-41) had more fast break points (18-9), but one thing made the ultimate difference; Depth.
Lets compare the two benches:
Golden State: Guard Shaun Livingston was once a Superstar in the making until a tragic knee injury almost ended his career. He bounced around the league with many teams giving up on him, and is now 3 games away from ring #2 in as many years. Shaun causally went 8/10 from the field and scored 20 points in game 1.
Center Festus Ezeli. You may not notice if you only watch the ball, but Festus is pure energy and impact when in the game. Rebounding, box outs, blocks, changing shots, among many other things that don’t show up on the box score. He gives the Dubs a shot in the arm. Watching the game, I always take note of how much better the play on the floor is vs when Andrew Bogut is on the floor. In my humble opinion, Ezeli should start, but I’m not the coach. Maybe he’ll follow Luke to L.A. and get his chance there.
Guard Leandro Barbosa. The Brazilian Blur will be 34 in November and still looks as quick as he did when he was 24. Barbosa went 5/5 tonight with 11 big points. Great option to pair with Shaun Livingston.
Guard Andre Igudola is another vet who still has plenty left in the tank, and who also was the center piece for a franchise at one time. Iggy can knock down an occasional three from the wing or the corner but he’s most known for his tough defense, and coming into the game to provide much needed leadership when things get a little erratic. 5/9 12 pointts 7rebs 6ast.
Then you still have Mo Speights, Ian Clark (talented young player), Anderson Varejao, and the break glass in-case-of-emergency Brandon Rush. My point is, there are a lot of line up variations to throw out there. Hate them are love them, the Warriors are a matchup nightmare from 1 to 12.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Guard Iman Shumpert. Can knock down the occasional three, athletic, but more known for his defense. Shump will play hard, but at times, you notice his hair more than you notice his impact. Tonights stats, 1-1 with 3 points.
Foward/Center Channing Frye. More of a spot up 3-point specialist. The Cavs brought Frye in to stretch the floor, and he is more than capable. Ask the Hawks. Tonight 0-1 with 2 points.
Then there are players who don’t get a lot of run, you may see them on the floor at times, but they may or may not make an impact. Players like Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Richard Jefferson, and Mo Williams.
Warriors 19/32 45 points.
Cavs 3/10 10 points
Advantage Golden State.
Argue who’s stars are the best , who deserves MVP honors, what team whines more, until you’re blue in the face. When you really look beyond the headlines, and and really pay attention to the little things that make a difference over the course of a 7 game series, remember team sports are similar to movies. What are the main characters without their supporting cast?