Jun 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) fights for a loose ball during the third quarter against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
What to Look For In Game 2:
James To Play Role of Facilitator: With the loss of Irving the Cavaliers have an “us against the world” attitude now, and while we at Clutch City know all too well what a desperate focused club can achieve there is one undeniable fact: Golden State DID NOT play well for most of Game 1. Or rather, they didn’t play how they typically play.
With any other team you could write that off and say it’s the Cavaliers defense, but the truth is the Warriors looked and played like what they were for 3 quarters: a young team in their first finals.
Don’t expect a repeat of those butterflies and stiffness in Game 2, in fact I expect the Warrior starters to come out firing on all cylinders.
I expect them to jump on the Cav’s while James tries to implement a team offensive flow. The other factor will be if Cleveland can replicate their defensive effort from Game 1 because if they don’t the Warriors could have a healthy lead by half. And, if you know anything about this Golden State team they don’t relinquish leads.
Warriors Defense – More of the Same: The choice to guard James forcing him into being a shooter was the right one and GSW won’t change this strategy. They will likely tweak their style by upping their aggressiveness in the passing lanes to shut down James ability to facilitate. It’s one thing for Cleveland to say they’ll just change their offensive strategy, it’s quite another for them to implement it against the best defense in the NBA. Of note, while Cleveland has held the best defensive record in the post season playing against Boston, Chicago and Atlanta aren’t exactly the same opposition as New Orleans, Memphis and Houston.
Warriors Who’ll Break Out: Following up on the above point: Draymond Green and Steph Curry didn’t have a typical effort. For them to not play up to their standard for two games in a row is about as likely as me playing in the NBA.
Someone Not Named James Has To Step Up: While the pundits have all been over the fact LeBron James and Cleveland will make adjustments for Game 2, so James becomes more of a facilitator the fact remains the players he is passing to still need to hit their shots. It’s not just a matter of getting them the ball, they need to score against the best defense in the NBA this season.
Bench Depth: I already highlighted the big discrepancy in this area of the two teams and to be honest I don’t envision Cleveland ever being able to overcome this dominance (other than J.R. Smith having an out of body night where he hits 10 threes, and they could still not match the Warriors output).
Fatigue Will Become a Factor: As the series continues the overall depth of Golden State is bound to take a toll on Cleveland. While we might not see James leave the court due to leg cramping the inevitable toll his body will take by having to do so much will. In addition, Cleveland has a ton of vets on their bench who might be able to offer some assistance here and there, over a long series they won’t have the legs to match the overall depth and talent of GSW.
Cavaliers Will Be MUCH MORE PHYSICAL: Book this… the one thing Cleveland has done all post season when they find their backs against the wall is they tend to play much more physical. I’m not saying they’ll be head hunting, but I would bet the bank they’ll be looking to make their presence felt.
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