Those of us who picked Cleveland to win the NBA Finals have to answer this question—if the Cavs couldn’t get a road win on a night when LeBron dropped 44 and Cleveland’s inside personnel decisively won the battle against Golden State and when the Warriors were clearly tight for a quarter-plus, then when exactly does Cleveland intend to get the necessary road win?
It’s a fair question and one that I’m pondering this morning after Golden State’s 108-100 overtime win in Game 1. Cleveland had control of this game through much of the first half because they controlled the pace. When they keep it a halfcourt game, it’s much tougher for the Warriors to get loose for open threes in transition and easier to play physical defense on Steph Curry without fouling.
Golden State was able to gradually open up the pace of play, but they still ended up converting only ten trey attempts. For a game that went into overtime, that’s not a high number and should spell danger for the favorites.
I’ve been hyping Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Golden State’s Draymond Green all postseason and had them circled as key performers again here. Thompson only scored two points, but he got 15 rebounds. Six of them were in the offensive end, and that doesn’t count several balls he kept alive by tips enabling a teammate to get to keep the possession alive.
Green had his moments and played pretty well, but with 12 points/6 rebounds, I didn’t find him as consequential as Thompson.
The battle between the big guys in the low post, Timofey Mozgov for the Cavs and Andrew Bogut for the Warriors was a decided advantage for Cleveland. Mozgov had a 16/7 line, while Bogut was 4/7. Mozgov seemed to be more active offensively, making himself available on cuts and receiving passes from LeBron at key points. One of those points was Mozgov dropping two clutch free throws to tie the game 98-98 towards the end of regulation.
Through much of the game, Curry seemed reasonably under wraps. The final stat line is good—10/20 from the field for 26 points, but there are two mitigating factors. The first is that I’m saying through “much” of the game, not all and we’re getting to the end point in a little bit. The second is that even as Curry shot reasonably well, he never really got unleashed the way you’re looking for an MVP to do at home.
Kyrie Irving looked, if not 100 percent, at least close to his old self. He had 23 points and two spectacular blocks on Curry, one that kept the score tied at the end of regulation.Continue reading “How Did The Cavs Manage To Lose Game 1?” »