Saturday, June 22, 2024

NBA Preview: Golden State Warriors (5-1) at Cleveland Cavaliers (2-4)

All the numbers seem to favor the Golden State Warriors as they look to remain unbeaten on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.

The Warriors opened In-Season Tournament play with an action-packed, 141-139 road win Friday night over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State’s fourth straight triumph away from home this season.

The Warriors won just 11 road games all of last year.

One of those wins came at Cleveland, a 120-114 Golden State victory in January that was their sixth straight in the Forest City since a LeBron James-led triumph on Christmas Day 2016.

While the Warriors have been the NBA’s winningest team on the road this season, the Cavaliers are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies as the losingest at home, starting 0-3 against Oklahoma City, Indiana and New York.

Cleveland also lost its most recent game, a 121-116 road decision Friday night in a rematch with the Pacers in their In-Season Tournament opener.

The good news in Indianapolis was the return to action of Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland. Allen was making his season debut after suffering a bruised left ankle during training camp, while Garland hadn’t played since straining his left hamstring on opening night.

Both were thrust immediately into the starting lineup, with Garland going for 14 points and six assists in 32 minutes, while Allen had 10 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff labeled the loss “a tale of two halves” — a first 24 minutes during which the Pacers rolled up a 70-53 lead before Cleveland “won” the second 24 minutes to the tune of 63-51.

Meanwhile, Warriors coach Steve Kerr found his team’s win at Oklahoma City not so easy to explain. In fact, he admitted afterward he wasn’t familiar with the rule that eventually turned the game in Golden State’s favor.

Stephen Curry was given credit for a game-winning layup with two-tenths of a second remaining, but only after a long review deemed that neither teammate Draymond Green, who had touched the rim before the ball fell through the hoop, nor the Thunder’s Josh Giddey, who had swatted the net an instant before Green’s apparent gaffe, had performed any type of illegal goaltending.

Green insisted he was confident the referees, who initially called him for offensive interference, would get it right in the end. The win was the Warriors’ fifth in a row, all at different sites, including one at home over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. Their next three games are at Cleveland, Detroit, and Denver, which will give them a stretch of eight games in eight different cities.

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