- Game 1: “The game players get their feet wet”
Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, and the rest of the supporting cast (excluding the starters) were getting a taste of what was and will be the enormous task at hand in these NBA Finals against, arguably, the greatest team ever assembled. No one really seemed comfortable and as a unit, Cleveland looked unfocused. As the players have been preaching in postgame interviews, it’s impossible to simulate opponents as well as the gametime atmosphere in practice; so Game 1 puts everything into perspective. Game 1’s tale was a combination of Cleveland being a bit awe/star struck and the Warriors unleashing their anguish on the bitter events that took place in last year’s NBA Finals. LeBron and his Cavs are now 0-3 versus the Warriors in Game 1’s, but I doubt that discourages Cleveland. I expect LeBron and Kyrie to gather their troops and recalibrate their focus so they can execute a lot better in Game 2.
- Cavs Dominated the Boards
The Warriors did gain a lot of its initial momentum and took advantage of Cleveland lethargic behavior through second chance points. Warriors ended with 18 second chance points while Cavs had 13. With that being said, Cleveland still won the rebounding battle in totality, 67-60. Kevin Love led the pack with 21 rebounds. LeBron James added 15 rebounds. But Tristan Thompson, one of the league’s premier rebounders, only had 4 rebounds. I don’t expect Thompson to have another lackluster performance, on the glass, for the remainder of the series. And, I expect Cleveland to continue dominating the glass as well as converting more efficiently on the additional scoring opportunities they receive from their rebounding efforts for the rest of the NBA Finals.
- LeBron James
He was the only player, outside of Kyrie Irving, who was actually challenging the Warriors. James posted 28 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 blocks. But what about the 8 turnovers? Yes, he did commit 8 turnovers (Cavs committed a grand total of 20 turnovers which GSW converted into 21 points) but most of his turnovers were unforced errors and can easily be avoided with James’ unique ability to analyze and break down film and gameplans. Additionally, with no one on the Cavs shooting the ball well (team shot only 35% from the field) the Warriors could apply even more pressure on James making life even more difficult. Also, with the terrible shooting performance the Cavs’ supporting cast displayed, excluding Irving, the Cavs offense was conducted through LeBron-James-isolation situations where James had to create offense all by his lonesome throughout the entirety of the game (Cavs only had 15 assists as a team versus GSW who had 31 assists as a team). With this being the only offense the Cavs could conduct, the Warriors’ defense barely rotated, only had to pay close attention to James, and treated everyone else as a nonscoring threat.
At the end of the day, James has been to 8 NBA Finals (7 NBA Finals in a row), so this isn’t his first rodeo. I expect him as well as his supporting cast to adjust exponentially. As a competitor, when you get beat that bad, the only solution is to prepare the mind and body 110% harder to avoid that feeling of defeat yet again. Game 2 is a pivotal game for Cleveland, so don’t be surprised if James puts on a historic performance.