Game one was devastating for multiple reasons. We had a chance to win, we didn’t get the shot we should have, and then Kyrie limped away not to be seen again in uniform until next season. LeBron played a great game, albeit almost directly into the Warrior’s strategy. When the dust settled, though, it still only counts as one loss, and while the injury report has many analysts calling for the Cavs’ demise, there is more basketball to be played. Here are five keys to a game two victory for the Cavs.
5. Attack The Basket, Make Free Throws
The Cavs shot a forgettable 13-19 from the free throw line, compared to 20-22 for the Warriors. The percentage of made free throws certainly needs to improve in Game 2, but so does the number of attempts. That will happen if we attack the basket more, and settle for contested jump shots less. This includes everyone – LeBron, J.R., Delly, Shump, even Tristan if they choose to lay off of him. Outside of Draymond Green, no Warriors player committed more than two fouls. The game can change on every blow of the whistle, and if the Cavs are the aggressor, more of those whistles will go our way.
The number four thing the Cavs need to do to steal Game 2 tomorrow is on the next page!
4. Win the Rebound Battle
After the first quarter of game one the Cavs looked like they could dominate inside, with Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov combining for several offensive rebounds and giving the smaller Draymond Green fits around the basket. The story was different after the first quarter, however, with the Warriors ultimately outrebounding the Cavs by three. Thompson has a great rebounding game, and Mozgov provided some much needed offense, but the rebounding battle needs to be a decisive victory for the Cavs to have a chance being as shorthanded as they are offensively. Any extra possessions that we can get, and any that we can keep them from getting, will give us a chance to win. Also a telling fact this postseason is that the Cavs haven’t lost a single game when outrebounding their opponents this postseason.
The number three thing the Cavs need to do to steal Game 2 tomorrow is on the next page!
3. LeBron Has To Move
Taking 38 shots isn’t where LeBron is at his best, but he may need to take that many with Kyrie out for us to avoid long droughts on offense. What is more important is where and how he gets those shots. A simple adjustment would be to have LeBron setting more screens, and using more screens, to move across the court to get better position in the post. The Warriors strategy is to not double-team him, and force him to take contested shots. Planting him 17 feet from the basket and letting him back down his man for long stretches of the shot clock feeds into that. He needs to move more, and make faster decisions once he gets the ball in the post.
The number two thing the Cavs need to do to steal Game 2 tomorrow is on the next page!
2. Role Players Need To Step Up
Without question, our bench was dramatically outplayed by the Golden State bench. The role playing trio of JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova combined to shoot 5 for 19 and score only 15 points. Delly shouldn’t actually count toward that statistic, as he didn’t attempt a single shot in his 9 minutes. He must be more aggressive, and JR and Iman each need to be prepared to attack off the dribble. Some of JR’s best playoff games have come with a combination of drives to the basket and step-back 3s. He needs to mix it up.
The number one thing the Cavs need to do to steal Game 2 tomorrow is on the next page!
1. Get Over Kyrie’s Injury
The city will feel sorry for the team and themselves, but the Warriors will not care. Losing Kyrie, specifically in overtime of game one with a chance to win, is about as devastating as the adversity can be for the Cavs. The Warriors will likely smell blood and do their best to take the series to Cleveland up 2-0. There is no time for the team to feel sorry for themselves. This is the time when they need to come together the most.