Ask any NBA analyst which teams have a chance of beating the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, and you’ll probably hear the same three teams: San Antonio, Cleveland and Oklahoma City.
The Spurs, sure. They’re 54-10. The Thunder, they have the best two-man duo in basketball. But the Cavs? Do they have a chance? Really?
“Well, they screwed David Blatt,” Charles Barkley said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He didn’t deserve to get fired. That was just really unfortunate and unfair, first and foremost. They play the way they normally do. They play one-on-one. They walk the ball up and down the court, and at the end of the day, LeBron’s got to do a better job of being a leader. There’s always something with that team. As the leader of that team, you got to tell everybody to shut the hell up, do your job and just play. Think about it. Even going back the last couple years, it’s always something with that team. He’s got to be a better leader and handle that stuff internally. You kind of get tired of hearing about stuff every week.”
The Cavs (45-18) hold a two-and-a-half-game lead over Toronto (42-20) for the top spot in the East, but they still look clunky on offense. That won’t bite them in March, but it might bite them in the playoffs.
“I mean, they’re going to win the East,” Barkley said. “I don’t think nobody thinks anybody in the East can beat them. And listen, I’m not counting them out in the championship. Everybody’s assuming it’s going to be Golden State. I’m not ready to make that assumption yet. They should win the East, but I just get sick of every week talking about the Cavaliers and who don’t like it there. There’s always drama around that team.”
The Thunder, meanwhile, could be gearing up for their final playoff push with Kevin Durant, who is averaging 28.1 points per game – third-highest in the NBA. Durant, 27, will be a free agent this offseason, but if he wants some unsolicited advice from Barkley, here it is:
“I would tell him to stay in Oklahoma City,” Barkley said. “They got a good enough team, but him and Russell (Westbrook) got to stop making mental errors down the stretch of close games and stop playing one-on-one basketball. No team in the NBA got more talent than the Thunder. Everybody knows it. That’s why a lot of people picked them to win the championship going into the season. But the problem is when the game slows down in the half court, they just play one-on-one basketball, stand around and watch Russell and Kevin go 1-on-5 and they don’t get good shots. That’s the problem.”