Warriors

Instant Replay: Warriors destroy Cavs in return to Cleveland

steph-kyrie-warriors-cavs-usatsi.jpg

Instant Replay: Warriors destroy Cavs in return to Cleveland

BOX SCORE

The argument is over, the debate crushed, the hypotheticals buried.

The Warriors staggered into Cleveland on Monday and found their legs, their edge and their game, fashioning a wire-to-wire 132-98 rout of the Cavaliers that silenced the skeptics as well as the sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.

With Stephen Curry scoring a game-high 35 points against a fully healthy Cavaliers team, the Warriors (38-4) put to rest the chatter that has raged ever since they beat the wounded Cavs in the NBA Finals last June.

Four other Warriors scored in double figures, as Andre Iguodala returned to the place where he picked up a Finals MVP trophy and poured in 20 points in 24 minutes. Draymond Green finished with 16 points, Klay Thompson had 15 and Harrison Barnes added 12.

Coming off an ugly loss last Saturday in Detroit, the Warriors shot 65 percent in the first half and 54.1 percent for the game, scoring more points against Cleveland than any team this season. Curry, Green and Thompson sat out the entire fourth quarter.

The Warriors, who also beat the Cavs last Christmas Day at Oracle Arena, swept Cleveland for the first time since 2012-13. The Warriors led by as much as 43 – the largest deficit ever faced by Cavs star LeBron James, who has played 1,127 games – in handing James his worst defeat ever in a Cavs jersey.

Cleveland guard JR Smith was ejected after being whistled for a flagrant foul 2 after slamming into Harrison Barnes and knocking him to the floor with 10:41 left in the third quarter.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
Green was fabulous, but this night belonged to the reigning MVP.

Curry’s line: 35 points (12-of-18 shooting, 7-of-12 from 3-point distance), five rebounds, four assists and three steals. His plus/minus: an astonishing plus-35.

Curry now has scored at least 30 points in 19 games, most in the NBA this season.

Green’s line: 16 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. His plus/minus: plus-36.

TURNING POINT:
The Warriors came out blazing, going up 12-2 a little more than two minutes after tipoff and taking a 34-21 lead after one quarter.

The Cavaliers got no closer than 11 in the second quarter and no closer than 32 after halftime.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: F James Michael McAdoo (L foot toe sprain) was listed as out and placed on the inactive list.

Cavaliers: No injuries listed and none reported during the game.

WHAT’S NEXT:
The Warriors return to action Wednesday in Chicago, where they face the Bulls at United Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 PST.

NBA Draft 2020: Deni Avdija celebrated Warriors' 2015 title in old photo

NBA Draft 2020: Deni Avdija celebrated Warriors' 2015 title in old photo

If the Warriors select 19-year-old Deni Avdija in the early stages of the 2020 NBA Draft, they'll be picking a player who appears to have been a fan of the franchise for at least a quarter of his life.

The Israeli-Serbian forward has been lighting up the Israeli Basketball Premier League for Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging 18.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. ESPN's NBA draft guru Mike Schmitz describes Avdija as an "aggressive offensive player who is in attack mode every time he steps onto the floor," who, "loves shooting pull-up 3-pointers in transition."

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

That would seem to mirror the way the Warriors played throughout their (still ongoing?) dynastic run. Given a photo posted to Avdija's Instagram in September of 2016, it would appear he has been a fan of Golden State for some time.

View this post on Instagram

מה זה בית ספר #🇪🇸

A post shared by Deni Avdija (@deniavdia8) on

That's the Warriors 2015 NBA Champions hat that Avdija is wearing while apparently sailing off the coast of Spain. A good-looking hat for an even better view.

[RELATED: Watch potential Dubs draft target Avdija dominate in Israel]

Just throwing this out there, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess he's a pretty big fan of Steph Curry, too.

Maybe, just maybe, they'll be teammates within a few months, and Avdija will have more Warriors apparel than he'll know what to do with.

Shaq gives outrageous breakdown of potential Lakers-Warriors matchup

Shaq gives outrageous breakdown of potential Lakers-Warriors matchup

Shaquille O'Neal won't back down from this debate.

The Hall of Fame center is 100 percent convinced his three-peat Los Angeles Lakers were better than the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant-led Warriors.

Shaq has made it clear over the last two years that he believes the 1999 through 2002 championship Lakers would have easily beaten the 2016 through 2019 Warriors in a hypothetical matchup.

The Diesel even claimed that the Warriors wouldn't have been a contender during the Lakers' dominant run.

But in an interview with Maxim Magazine published Tuesday, Shaq said the Lakers starters would have won every 1-on-1 matchup with the Warriors.

Brace yourselves, Warriors fans.

"I have a hard time believing that the greatest coach of all time (Phil Jackson), plus me and Kobe [Bryant], wouldn’t match up quite nicely against Steve Kerr and his gang," Shaq said. "Kobe takes Steph and dominates him. [Derek] Fisher takes Klay and manhandles him. [Rick] Fox takes Draymond and makes him foul out in the first half. Horace [Grant] would do his thing with K.D. But let’s be real, K.D., is a beast, and you can only do so much with him. And then I’d remind [Zaza] Pachulia why I am in the Hall of Fame and he is not."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Where do we even begin?

Yes, Kobe was an elite defender, but Curry is a generational talent. He would not have been dominated by Bryant. Steph against a prime Kobe would have been must-see TV, but it wouldn't have been as one-sided as Shaq believes.

If Shaq thinks Klay would be manhandled by anyone, let alone Fisher, he hasn't watched the Warriors shooting guard enough. Thompson has five inches on Fisher and would just shoot right over him.

If Fox tried to bully Draymond, the Warriors forward would pull a Doug Christie and sock him in the jaw. Draymond's motor would give him the edge in that matchup.

Durant would get his against Grant or any other defender the Lakers threw at him. You know who he is. He's Kevin Durant.

The only matchup the Lakers win hands down is Shaq vs. Zaza. Sorry, Zaza.

Shaq's Lakers were able to do something the Warriors weren't able to do: Three-peat. But Golden State very likely would have accomplished the feat if Durant and Thompson had been healthy for the entirety of the 2019 NBA Finals.

[RELATED: Why Curry, Dubs would dominate Lakers]

Yes, Shaq has every right to defend his Lakers teams, but to say they would completely dominate those Warriors teams is a bit far-fetched. Before Durant arrived, the Warriors won 73 games. After he signed, they steamrolled the league on their way to back-to-back NBA titles, and could have three-peated.

This debate will never be settled, but one thing is for sure. Shaq won't let it go.