The match wasn’t pretty by any measure. Neither the Cavaliers nor the Warriors shot well; they combined to make only 74 field goals out of a whopping 176 attempts. Not surprisingly, the complete picture reflected the poor touch of the marquee names. Donovan Mitchell had 21 points, but drew nylon in just seven of 22 stabs at the basket. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry’s needed to take 24, with nine being counted, en route to 30 markers. To the 18,064 fans at the Chase Center, however, the outcome was what mattered most. Unfortunately, even that was not to their liking.
Indeed, the Cavaliers wound up taking the Warriors anew. For the second time in six days, they proved superior to the 2022 National Basketball Association champions. It may still be early in their campaign, but they nonetheless took pleasure in winning the series against their longtime rivals. The last time the latter tasted defeat at their hands was Christmas in 2016, when LeBron James still ruled the roost, and when the euphoria of the greatest comeback in Finals history was still in the air.
It would be an understatement to argue that the Cavaliers most definitely didn’t care that they benefited from relatively friendlier whistles. They were awarded 13 more free throws off five more fouls by the Warriors. Most crucially, they got a break when defensive anchor and offensive fulcrum Draymond Green was ejected halfway through the third quarter following his second technical foul. Although the opposition used it as motivation to rally from a double-digit deficit to actually take the lead, they managed to right the ship with inspired play in the payoff period.
Considering the checkered history between the Cavaliers and Warriors, it’s a shame that they won’t meet anew in the 2023-24 season — unless, of course, they get to move past their brackets in the in-season tournament or make their way at to the Finals. In any case, there remains a lot of hoops to be played. The tantalizing proposition notwithstanding, they would do well to keep their eyes on the ultimate prize. After all, blips on the radar count for squat in the grand scheme of things.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.