Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors

2017 NBA Finals – Game Two

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UPCOMING MILESTONES:  Just by playing, LeBron James will have appeared in the 8th most postseason games in NBA history – passing Manu Ginobili. In addition, with 12 more free throws, he passes Michael Jordan for the most in playoff games in history. Finally, with one three-pointer, Iman Shumpert will have made the 7th most in Cavaliers franchise history – passing Mo Williams.

One game into the Finals, and the Warriors are continuing to prove themselves worthy of their three straight Finals appearances. Meanwhile, although the Cavaliers have also been to this stage three times in a row, they didn’t look like it in Game One with their number of defensive lapses and mental mistakes. But hope is far from lost – the Cavaliers still have LeBron James. Just last season, they lost the first game by double digits and still went on to win in seven.

In Game One, the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers in all four quarters – 35 to 30 in the 1st, 25-22 in the 2nd, 33-20 in the 3rd, and 20-19 in the 4th. Not a single Cleveland player outscored Golden State while on the court, with all five starters being outscored by double digits. One major issue for the Cavaliers was the ease at which they were allowing the Warriors to get inside the paint – Cleveland scored 30 points in the paint to Golden States’ 56. Out of the Warriors’ 106 shots, 51 came within eight feet of the basket. In addition, the Warriors picked apart the Cavaliers in transition, scoring 27 points off of fast breaks.

Rebounding was one of the few categories were the Cavaliers led – 59 to 50, due in part to Kevin Love’s 21 – although with their 20 turnovers to the Warriors’ 4, these extra possessions were wasted. Golden State ended up shooting 20 more shots than the Cavaliers (106 to 86) while also shooting at a higher percent (42.5% to 34.9%). On offense, the Warriors often pushed the ball through Draymond Green early, despite his poor shooting (3/12, 25.0%) and low assist numbers (2) – Green had the most touches (96) and passes (77) on either team. Defensively, they deflected the ball 16 times (compared to the Cavaliers’ 8) and recovered 22 loose balls (compared to the Cavaliers’ 6). With smarter play, better shooting, and more effort, the Warriors dismantled the Cavaliers with ease in the second half.

Three keys for Game Two will be: (1) Limit fast break opportunities. The Warriors were already averaging a league-best 20.7 fast break points per game before Game One, where they put up 27. In transition, the Cavaliers often found themselves in 2-on-1 situations or out of position. (2) Play tighter defense on Kevin Durant, and prevent the easy basket. He shot 12 uncontested shots on in Game One – the most on of either team. (3) Limit the turnovers. With 20 turnovers (12 in the first half), the Cavaliers lost a decent amount of possessions. In both the regular season and playoffs, the Cavaliers had previously turned the ball over 20 or more times in four games, winning just 50% of them.

Key players to watch for on the Warriors will be Stephen Curry (averaging 28.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per playoff game), Kevin Durant (averaging 26.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per playoff game), and Draymond Green (averaging 13.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per playoff game).

Tipoff is set for 8:00 EST and will be broadcast on ABC.