What we learned from the first two games & what to expect from the next two games.
Oracle Arena, located in Oakland, California and home of the NBA’s Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors, was recently ranked as one of the top 3 toughest places to play this season according to STACK magazine. The arena that houses 19,596 fans a night is one of the loudest arenas in all of sports and has almost doubled in magnitude because of the NBA Finals. This happens to be quite an adjustment for the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers seeing as they are coming off a dominating Eastern Conference Finals performance facing the Atlanta Hawks, who also made STACK’s list but only this time as one of the top 3 easiest places to play in the NBA.
In a nutshell this season for the Cavaliers has been one of many impediments, but even with all the obstacles the Cavaliers have faced during these playoffs two words are used to describe this bunch of road warriors “adjustments & persistence”. Following games 1 & 2 of the NBA finals here are a few things we learned about the Cavs & the persistence they showed in the first two games of the Finals as well as what adjustments we can look to expect them to make in games 3 & 4 of the finals.
What we learned
- “All injured” the Cavs face another detrimental loss due to injury with lead guard Kyrie Irving going down in game 1 with a fracture to his knee cap that will cause him to miss the remainder of the playoffs. This follows the loss of Kevin love to a dislocated shoulder, Anderson Varejao to a torn Achilles, Brendon Haywood to a swollen knee and Mike miller with ongoing back problems. All of these injuries are forcing the Cavs to make adjustments more so based on personal rather than matchups and the flow of the game.
- “Tempo” Whoever controls the tempo has had the edge in each game. In Game 1 we witnessed a back n fourth battle between these two teams but the Warriors fast paced style of play took a toll on the Cavs resulting in a convincing win even though the game did go into overtime. Game 2 seemed to follow suit of a back n fourth battle even followed by an overtime period like in game 1 except this time around the Cavs used their defense & slower pace of play to gravitate them to a hard-fought win.
- “4th quarter miscues” Games 1 & 2 have been lived up to all the hype that this Finals matchup expected. But what we have learned about the Cavs is that their struggles seem to be most prevalent in the 4th Their style of play becomes quite sloppy as they often string together a series of plays that often end with a turnover, terrible shot selection or not even getting a shot up at all. This is due to the Cavs nonexistent offense in the 4th quarter as 90% of their plays are isolation plays on the left side of the floor for LeBron James which leaves him in a tough position to make a play if he’s able to make one at all. Not to mention the officiating or better yet the lack of it. Game 2 was full of unrecorded fouls committed by Warriors players against LeBron James in the final possessions of regulation & over time. It’s tough to win when you make mistakes but even tougher to win when you’re playing 8 against 5.
What to Expect
- “Winning formula” The Cavs seem to have gotten more comfortable playing against the warriors in their role as the underdog. Even though they failed to win game 1 the Cavs seem to have developed a winning formula to defeat the warriors. That formula is a combination of controlling the tempo and completely shutting down Steph Curry. The Cavs plan of throwing multiple defenders at Step Curry seems to be working as the combination of Iman Shumpert, Mathew Dellavedova & LeBron James wreaked havoc upon Curry as he shot a dismal 5-23 from the field and 2-15 from the 3pt line.
- “The Delly effect” Matthew Dellavedova has been the spark to the Cavs all playoffs long. His energy and defensive tenacity are what keep his opponents awake at night as they nervously await the fearlessness he will bring as he guards them all night long. His uncanny play making ability forces opponents to be aware of his presence whenever he steps on the floor. This works in the Cavs favor as it alleviates some of the pressure from LeBron’s shoulders as he’s usually the one having to make the majority of the plays for the Cavaliers.
- “king James” Following a 40 point performance in game 1 and a triple-double in game 2 there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that LeBron is in rare form and focused on bringing a championship to Cleveland. What fans should expect from the king is another dominating performance in games 3 & 4. LeBron’s focus in the upcoming games should be on attacking the basket and finding open teammates. When LeBron plays this way it lights a spark of confidence in guys like J.R. Smith & Tristan Thompson who the Cavs will also need big games from in order to bring a championship home to Cleveland.