3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Count the Cavs Out After Game 1

  • 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.

Advertisements

3 Time’s a Charm

The time has come. On June 1st at 9 PM, the Cleveland Cavaliers will travel west to face off against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are heavily favored to win the title but the Cavs could be the opponent to spoil their anticipated champagne showers. Why do the Cavs have the best chance to defeat the most talented team ever assembled? Here are the reasons:

  • New Acquisitions

Over the course of the season, the Cavs acquired Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, and Kyle Korver (Andrew Bogut was also a major addition but his season was ended in literally 2 minutes so I guess it wasn’t meant to be). I doubt that Derrick Williams will play major minutes in the Finals, but if the Cavs should play him, he is a versatile, athletic forward who has the ability to shoot the ball and spread the floor. Now, Kyle Korver will be a major component for the Cavs. Since he will most likely be a liability to Cleveland on defense, Korver will have to sink just about every single three-point shot he attempts. If Korver is able to consistently be a threat from the perimeter, he will force the Warrior’s defense to stay at home which will help Kyrie and LeBron do what they do best. Deron Williams is obviously the other primary ballhandler which will help take pressure off Kyrie and LeBron. With Deron, he will need to be aggressive when the opportunity presents itself (like he was vs. BOS in Game 5) and not defer immediately to LeBron or Kyrie; it will make the Cavs’ offensive attack not solely based on isolation play which can become oversaturated and predictable.

  • Cleveland vs. The World

The core of this 73-win Warriors team still remains intact with the addition of the league’s second-best player, Kevin Durant. Logically, if the Warriors team, prior to KD, was up 3-1 in a series they eventually lost, then surely this year’s Warriors superteam will be destined to win now with KD coming to save the day. However, the beautiful thing about sports is the unpredictability and drastic shift of momentum from game-to-game. Right now, everyone is counting the Cavs out and giving them no chance. Surely, the players are aware of this and will be intrigued to silence all the doubters. During interviews with the media, LeBron and the Cavs are innately-trained to be humble, acknowledge and praise the extraordinary talents of the Warriors. But, from a competitor’s standpoint behind closed doors, the Cavs don’t find the Warriors intimidating at all. At the end of the day, the Warriors have home-court advantage but the Cavs are the defending champs.

  • Kyrie “Uncle Drew” Irving

He’s already deemed the best ballhandler to ever play this game. And, without question, he has proven that he is the go-to guy during critical moments in the game (“The Shot” in game 7 vs. Warriors during 2016 Finals, the 42-point performance in game 4 vs. Celtics during 2017 ECF). Since game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals and the entirety of last year’s NBA Finals, Kyrie has proven to be a far better asset and leader to his team than Steph Curry. In last year’s finals, Kyrie averaged 28 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field. On the other hand, Curry averaged only 22 points per game while shooting only 42 percent from the field. With Kyrie on the floor, the Warriors have to worry about an explosive-scoring guard who is very capable of taking and making any shot, anywhere, at any time. LeBron put it best when he stated: “He [Kyrie] was born to perform and make big plays during key moments in the game.”

Kyrie1.jpg

  • LeBron “The King” James

LeBron is the best player in the game. He just passed The G.O.A.T, Michael Jordan, to become the leading scorer in NBA playoff history. Just to add, LeBron needs to make only 2 three’s to pass Reggie Miller and become the second-leading three-point scorer in NBA playoff history. And, I almost forgot! This finals appearance in 2017 will be LeBron’s 7th in a row! So, LeBron is used to this stage. However, this will be LeBron’s biggest challenge thus far in his career. KD is licking his chops, in the west, waiting to carry out his revenge after getting swept by LeBron in the 2012 NBA Finals. KD is obviously one of the best/unique scorers this league has ever seen. LeBron and the Cavs will have to try and contain KD and the Warriors’ high-octane offense to the best of their ability. If everyone plays their role and remains fundamentally-sound defensively to create more offensive possessions, then there’s no doubt that LeBron can and will find gaps in the defense in order to exploit the Warriors from the inside-out.

LBJ1

Without a doubt, this will be one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of sports. The series between these two juggernauts is tied 1-1 and this third meeting at the grand stage could potentially be the conclusion to an amazing rivalry. Players on both sides are healthy so the matchups are very promising ensuring an ultra-competitive series. Like ESPN analyst, Stephen A. Smith, declared: “THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!” Players’ legacies will be on the line. Who will rise to the top and be the cream of the crop?