December 16, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots the basketball against Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
At Golden State (12.25, ABC)
This is the matchup the Cavs have circled on their calendar since the schedule came out. If there is any team that has a chance to slow down the Warriors, it’s the Cavs. The Warriors have played a large part in revolutionizing the NBA game, utilizing a small lineup that has baffled opponents.
The lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green is statistically the NBA’s most efficient lineup this season. A similar lineup, with Festus Ezeli in for Harrison Barnes, is the NBA’s 5th most consistent.
The Warriors are likely to be without Barnes, who is nursing a sore left ankle, on Christmas Day. With or without Barnes, the Cavaliers match up well with the Warriors, regardless of the lineup the Warriors put on the floor.
To beat the Warriors, teams need a contingent of guards and versatile big men and the Cavaliers have both of those. With Irving, Matthew Dellavedova, Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Mo Williams, and even Jared Cunningham, the Cavaliers have six guys who they can throw at the the Splash Brothers. Offensively, the Cavaliers’ can play small ball with LeBron playing the power forward. The Cavs had success with this during the playoffs.
Regardless of the outcome, this matchup should be a fun one that many expect to see again come June.
Prediction: Cavaliers 108, Warriors 101
Next: 12.26: At Portland