June 5, 2018
After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, we expected to have another great game between two teams that are very familiar with each other, although there are many new faces in the rivalry. A wide-open JaVale McGee dunk assisted from Steph Curry as the opening basket of the game gave many a feeling that the Cavaliers were not going to show up to play, but this was not the case. Although the Warriors were very aggressive to get the basket while also playing great defense within the opening minutes, the Cavs played their game and didn’t rush anything. The three-point shot was already in effect, with Klay Thompson starting it off for the Warriors, but soon after George Hill would also respond with a three of his own. Kevin Durant took advantage of smaller defenders on him with post fade-a-ways and was very efficient in his shooting (10-14 from the field, 2-3 from beyond the arc, and finished with 26 points). The Cavs would begin to open up their offensive arsenal with JR Smith finally contributing with back to back baskets for the Cavaliers. LeBron was aggressive to the paint as he was in the first encounter, but the trend of slipping screens for the Warriors led to at least 10 easy points directly at the basket. The Warriors held a single digit lead for most of the first half, and anytime they looked to pull away, the Cavs would come right back to striking distance. The led did get up to 13 but would soon be cut to single digits with aggressive play from Kevin Love, George Hill, and LeBron James of course. Steph Curry was already dazzling from beyond the arc in the first half and would continue this trend throughout the game. With just a few seconds remaining in the half, LeBron already had 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, trying to carry this Cavalier team to victory. Cleveland was shooting an abysmal 35 percent from the field while Golden State was shooting 60 at the half but were not as far out of the game as many would expect. The Cavs would begin the half down by 13 again but would cut it to an eight-point game with only two minutes of gameplay. Kevin Love found his stroke from the outside and was 50 percent from three-point line by this point. These teams were trading baskets for much of the third quarter, but with little under 5 minutes to go in the third, the Cavaliers only trailed by 5. The Warriors expanded their lead to 11 behind the shooting effort of Klay Thompson, but LeBron would not go away, and would knock down a three to make it a seven-point game. But, this is where we would see the superb shooting of Stephen Curry, as he catches fire after he breaks down Larry Nance for the first of his five three pointers in the fourth quarter, with his most impressive coming with the shot clock expiring from almost 28 feet out. The benches were emptied earlier to finish a game that was decided with about three and a half minutes remaining in the game. The Golden State Warriors would go on to win Game 2 122-103 and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the 2018 NBA Finals.
The Splash Brothers made it rain as Klay Thompson had an efficient night scoring 20 points on 8-13 shooting and Steph Curry hitting NBA Finals record 9 three pointers to finish the game with 33 points. But it was contributions from Shaun Livingston and JaVale McGee that really put the Warriors over the edge tonight. Both played great defense and were offensively active through cutting and finding open spaces which created more room for the Warriors’ superstars and improved the flow of the offense. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson both played well, but the Cavalier that I feel had most impact on the game, beside LeBron James of course, was George Hill. He played aggressive defense and made timely shots that kept the Cavs within reach for much of the game. Although the turnover, rebound, and assist margins were just about the same for each team, the one factor that decided the game was simply this, the Cleveland Cavaliers could not shoot the ball as well as Golden State did, with a difference of 41 to 57 in field goal percentage and 33 to 42 in three-point percentage respectively.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are hungry for a win, and for the most part have played well enough in the first two games to win either one, if not both. If it weren’t for a total of about 12 minutes in both games that were in Golden State’s favor, this series could be completely flipped. I think LeBron and Cavs go home and take care of business to bring the series back into reach, with major contributions from JR Smith and believe it or not Rodney Hood.
Game 3 will be played in the Cleveland at The Q on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018 on ABC at 9 p.m. Can the Warriors but the series “out of reach” and take a 3-0 lead or will the King and Co. show up big in front of their fans and come one step closer to tying this series?
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