Struggling Cavaliers bracing for hot Warriors
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CLEVELAND -- His reeling team finally at home after 17 of the last 20 days on the road, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the players better be up for the Golden State Warriors.
"If not, it'll be embarrassing," Lue said.
The Cavs have lost three straight games, seven of the last nine and eight of the last 11. They've played the Warriors on the last two Martin Luther King Jr. holidays and lost those games by a combined 69 points.
The defending champion Warriors, who beat the Cavs in five games in the 2017 Finals, have won 12 straight on the road. When Stephen Curry plays, they're averaging 121 points.
Curry didn't play in Golden State's 99-92 win over Cleveland on Christmas because of a sprained right ankle. Isaiah Thomas didn't play for the Cavs that day because he was still rehabbing his injured right hip.
In Thomas' last three games, the Cavs have allowed 387 points.
So, yes, the chance for embarrassment is there for the Cavs.
"You could win a hundred straight games and face the Warriors and there are still challenges," LeBron James said.
James scored 20 points with six rebounds and six assists against the Warriors on Christmas, shooting 7 of 18 from the field. Kevin Durant scored 25 and Klay Thompson added 24 for the Warriors.
Kevin Love scored 31 points that day for the Cavs in a game Cleveland lost primarily because it shot a season-worst 31.8 percent from the field.
Thomas, a two-time All-Star point guard, was supposed to take a potent Cavs offense and make it unstoppable. Instead, after strong performances in Thomas' first two games (18.0 points per game), he's shot 5 of 26 from the field in his last two and 0 of 17 in the first halves of those games.
The Cavs trailed by 27 and 25 points, respectively, at halftime.
"I knew it was going to be like this. I have no legs," Thomas said. "So it's going to take some time to get it back, even when I played well those first two games I told coach Lue it didn't feel right. It was kinda fool's gold. The shots were going in, but none of my movements, none of the things I usually do felt normal. It's going to be like that for a while."
At 35-9, the Warriors have the best record in the NBA. Curry's missed 15 games this season and Durant has missed eight. They haven't missed a beat.
The Warriors are 16-9 against the Cavs in this rivalry dating to the 2015 Finals (won by Golden State), but this is their first look at Cleveland with Thomas playing point guard.
"He's great at pushing the pace, he's amazing coming off screens, so it's going to be a different dynamic," Thompson said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "It's going to be fun. I want to see what they're like at full strength. It's going to be a great test for us."
The Warriors are in the middle of a five-game road trip. They held on Saturday to beat the Toronto Raptors 127-125. The Raptors destroyed the Cavs by 34 points on Thursday.
"Obviously, with our history with Cleveland, you want to get a win," Curry said, according to the Mercury News. "You want to send a message."
Updated January 14, 2018