For the past four years, we have seen the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers make the NBA Finals. The Warriors won three of those and the Cavaliers stole one after trailing 1-3 in the series. But this year, neither team may make the NBA Finals and here’s why.
The Cavs are one of the worst teams in the NBA and aren’t even going to make the playoffs. After LeBron James left to join the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cavs became the joke of the NBA. Funny enough, James may also miss the playoffs this year. The Western Conference is much tougher than the East and James is finding that out the hard way.
Golden State on the other hand has had a great year. They finally got DeMarcus Cousins back from injury and while he is still getting used to playing, he has shown signs of greatness. On the other hand, he isn’t developing fast enough for the Warriors to show improvements.
Getting Cousins was supposed to make the Warriors even better but it didn’t. Besides Cousins not being a 100 percent, it takes the ball away from Stephen Curry. This year, Curry has been scorching teams with an average of 28.4 points per game. That is his second highest average and the Warriors have needed all the scoring from Curry this year to win.
A big difference from this year to the many previous seasons is that the Warriors aren’t blowing teams out as often as they used to. The reason for that is the Warriors’ bench. They have no depth and are depleted. Often times, the Warriors rely solely on the scoring of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry. If one of them has a bad game, the opposing team will be in the game.
While Cousins has given the Warriors scoring, he makes their defense suffer. If Kevon Looney or Jordon Bell player center, they will mostly shock block. They are young and athletic and move well. Cousins on the other hand does not move well and is still not fully healthy. That has hurt the team and it has a simple answer which may be required if the Warriors want to win it all this year which they obviously do.
Golden State needs to make Cousins come off the bench. It’s as simple as that. The two biggest problems the Warriors have is no shot blocker in the starting lineup (Kevin Durant is a great shot blocker but he isn’t always in the paint) and their bench has no reliable scorer. Andre Igoudala is still playing well but he has never been a reliable scorer and Shaun Livingston is too old to contribute much.
Will the Warriors even think about benching Cousins? That is a question that will come up and Steve Kerr has to make that call. He is a great coach and I expect him to be smart but Cousin’s ego might not allow it. In the end, the Warriors will be their own biggest enemy come playoff time.