- PG: Stephen Curry
- SG: Klay Thompson
- SF: Harrison Barnes
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Andrew Bogut
Game 2 Pick & Preview of 2016 NBA Finals: Cavs vs Warriors
The Cleveland Cavaliers held Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to 20 combined points in game one of the 2016 NBA Finals, and they still lost. That is the current state of the NBA’s title series, as LeBron James and his Big 3 played a strong first three quarters, but ultimately fell apart against Golden State’s bench.
The Warriors weren’t just solid in support of their struggling stars, either. They were historic.
The bench was fueled by Shaun Livingston’s insane mid-range game, which was good for 20 points to back a 43-point bench explosion. Oh, the historic part? The Dubs outscored Cleveland’s bench by 35 points, good for the most in an NBA Finals game since 1974.
Of course, one game doesn’t make a series and it’s also foolish to think the Warriors can sustain this kind of play from their bench. However, it may be telling when you look at both of these team’s depth, as well as imagining Curry and Thompson being that cold again in such a huge series.
After all, the Cavs did great work on Golden State’s two best offensive players, and they still didn’t come close to winning. Does that close the door on Cleveland’s bid for their first ever title after one game? Not just yet, but it may mean they can’t afford to lose Sunday’s game two.
Golden State Warriors Team Preview
There are a number of positive spins to put on Golden State’s game one win. Their depth advantage was obvious, their home court edge stood out, they wont despite getting very little from Curry and Thompson, they got past Cleveland’s strong defense and Draymond Green showed he can probably dominate this series.
There may be even more to be happy about if you’re the Warriors, but the most important thing going into Sunday’s game two showdown with the Cavs will be not becoming complacent.
Cleveland does have more firepower offensively than they did in this same matchup last year, and it seemed to pay off for much of game one. They stepped up their defense, too. Had it not been for a blistering performance from the Dubs’ bench, we could be looking at this series a lot differently.
Because of that unsustainable performance, Golden State can both feel good about winning despite a no-show from their two best players, while also realizing they need to be better come game two.
But that is what is crazy about this. It isn’t overly logical to expect Cleveland to continue to stifle two of the greatest shooters on their home court. The Warriors are exceptional in transition and can kill you in the half court, and as good as the Cavs were on defense to start game one, they eventually had breaks and allowed the Warriors to do as they pleased.
The best thing the Warriors can do going into game two is just be themselves. Curry and Thompson are guys that can defy logic and/or great defense. They can create for themselves and score in a number of ways, or the mere threat of them shooting can open up easy baskets for someone else.
The point is, they struggled in game one, but they won because everything else was done the same way they always have done it. They defended, they shared the ball, they executed and where two guys came up short, the rest of the team stepped up. For most teams, game one is a loss of a team’s top two stars don’t show up. The Warriors have proven time and time again, however, they are not most teams.
Their defense was as good as ever, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala – offense aside – gave LeBron James serious problems inside the paint, and the Warriors – as they are one to do – shared the rock all day long.
This is a team that can win more games with either Curry or Thompson struggling. The problem the Cavs may soon encounter is it’s just not that likely one or both are that bad again.
|6/2/16||VS Cavaliers||Win 104-89|
|5/30/16||VS Thunder||Win 98-88|
|5/28/16||at Thunder||Win 108-101|
|5/26/16||VS Thunder||Win 120-111|
|5/24/16||at Thunder||Lost 118-94|
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Preview
As crazy as game one was, let’s keep things in perspective for the Cavs. For one, they were absolutely in game one for the first three quarters and held Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson completely in check. Things fell apart quickly from there, but Cleveland could have pulled off the upset if they had remained focused and done a few things differently.
One thing that can’t change is how they defender Golden State’s top two shooters. Their defense was nasty and for three quarters, they really made the Warriors look pretty average offensively. However, it didn’t last four four quarters, as Cleveland’s main starters allowed Golden State’s bench to go nuts and once Curry and Thompson came back in, their defense even allowed both to knock down dagger three’s.
Needless to say, that defense we saw in the first three quarters needs to show up again and play a full four quarters. That’s really the only way the Cavs win game two, or even win a game in this series. They need to be fully on their toes, as aggressive as possible and close out on every single shooter.
- PG: Kyrie Irving
- SG: J.R. Smith
- SF: LeBron James
- PF: Kevin Love
- C: Tristan Thompson
Letting up against the Warriors – even against their bench – is going to end very badly.
It’s not just the defense that needs to stay cohesive, though. Cleveland’s offense was largely predictable, and if it hadn’t been for their tenacious defense early on, it’s very possible this game could have been over a lot earlier.
The Cavs did find some solid success from their Big 3, but Kyrie Irving was not efficient and Cleveland ran way too much ISO offense. Looking at the tape, the Cavs do not set things up often enough and there is far too much dribbling, with little movement and even less passing. Cleveland can’t work their offense like the Warriors can, but when they’re at their best, they are not just attacking and settling, but attacking and sharing the rock.
They’ve got the defense and attacking part down. Now Cleveland needs to play a full game defensively and be a little less predictable on offense. If they can do that, they should get everyone (specifically J.R. Smith) involved and keep the Dubs guessing. That’s probably the only way they steal game two, and logically the only way they stay in this series.
|6/2/16||at Warriors||Lost 104-89|
|5/27/16||at Raptors||Win 113-87|
|5/25/16||VS Raptors||Win 116-78|
|5/23/16||at Raptors||Lost 105-99|
|5/21/16||at Raptors||Lost 99-84|
Cavaliers at Warriors Game 2 Preview
Cleveland topped the Dubs on the boards by six, matched them in outside shooting percentage and their stars played better than Golden State’s. They still lost.
This proves the Warriors truly are an unstoppable force at home and that they can also win via defense and superior bench depth, as opposed to just getting top notch results from their MVP and his sidekick.
The ugliest part is that was just one game and those two guys probably won’t be that bad again. Cleveland played perfect defense for three quarters and held the Warriors in check, but it simply wasn’t a hold that could last.
Of course, the Dubs won game one of the Finals last year and dropped the next two games, so it’s possible that Cleveland rebounds and finishes off the Dubs in game two to keep this a series.
History doesn’t necessarily promote that argument, however. Golden State has flat out owned the Cavs lately, winning the last three games of the 2015 NBA Finals to take the title and then tacking on three more wins to give them a brutal six-game winning streak over these Cavs.
|6/2/16||Warriors 104, Cavaliers 89|
|1/18/16||Warriors 132, Cavaliers 98|
|12/25-15||Warriors 89, Cavaliers 83|
|6/16/15||Warriors 105, Cavaliers 97|
|6/14/15||Warriors 104, Cavaliers 91|
|6/11/15||Warriors 103, Cavaliers 82|
|6/9/15||Cavaliers 96, Warriors 91|
|6/7/15||Cavaliers 95, Warriors 93 (OT)|
|6/4/15||Warriors 108, Cavaliers 100 (OT)|
This is where Cleveland’s resolve and desire to win their first ever title is truly tested. Are they actually good enough to beat these Warriors over the course of an entire game, or do they only have enough to compete before fading late?
It’s tough to tell, but judging by the first three quarters, the Cavs still could have it in them. That doesn’t mean that ability translates into a game two win, but if they correct their mistakes – lack of ball movement, J.R. Smith not being utilized and defensive collapse late – they could still pull back into this.
Then again, that is a lot to correct on the road in a hostile environment, while also crossing their fingers that Curry and Thompson run cold for the second game in a row.
|Win/Loss||73-9 (39-2 at home)||57-25 (24-17 away)|
Recommended Game 2 Bet
Cleveland’s back is officially against the wall here. Over 70% of NBA Finals game one winners go on to win the title, while teams that take a 2-0 Finals lead have lost just three times in NBA history.
There is a serious silver lining for the Cavs, though. They don’t get to that 2-0 hole because LeBron James doesn’t allow it to happen. Since 2009, King James-led teams haven’t lost game two after losing game one. He just doesn’t let it happen.
It’s still possible history is topped here and the Dubs show just how amazing they are, but it’s awfully tough to bet against James in general, let alone seven years of playoff history. That has us at least taking Cleveland and the points here to beat the spread.
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