The Warriors bench has been a strength of theirs all season. The reason why people feel that they are considered the best team of all time or one of the best teams of all time is due to the fact that their bench is so deep and they have starting caliber players playing backup minutes. Against the Thunder, you could see when their bench is not producing, they can be beaten. It shows when a guy like Shaun Livingston only takes 11 shots and they were almost beaten by the Thunder, but regained control at the end of the series.
It’s a completely different series now for the Warriors and their bench is zoned in and ready to carry the team when the starters slack. Livingston had 20 points on eight shots last night in Game 1, and the whole Warriors bench outscored Cleveland’s bench 45-10. That is what it takes in an NBA championship series when your starters go cold because Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were virtually non-existent as they combined for a terrible 8-27 from the floor.
The Warriors slogan throughout the season was ‘Strength in Numbers’. Last night’s game couldn’t be more evident of that as three Warrior players scored in double figures off the bench. The bench was tested and they delivered. It makes this team that much more scary when the bench and starters are able to produce at the same time because then they become virtually unbeatable.
You see the complete opposite on the other side of the ball with Cleveland. The team seemed to be folding under pressure as Cleveland’s big three in Love, Irving, and James combined to shoot 60 shots and only made 23 of them. They were forcing the issue and not playing the type of basketball that got them to this point, which was shooting the basketball well. Their bench is not as deep as the Warriors, but they were not even using some of their best shooters off of the bench, like Channing Frye, in moments when all they needed was just a spark off the bench. Yes, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert played respectable minutes, but they have more than that.
You can see where the Warriors can rely on their bench when their starters are not producing, whereas Cleveland does not have that luxury.
It will be interesting to see how Cleveland adjusts to the Warriors’ stellar bench play. They know the Splash Brothers will be back, but they have to find ways to not let the Warriors bench produce, because if not, it can be over very quickly for the Cavaliers.