Game 1 and Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals are in the books. Wouldn’t you know it? The Golden State Warriors have looked unbeatable. If you’re a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, you can’t be happy with how the first 2 games have gone.
2017 NBA Finals Recap and Preview
But, don’t fret Cavs fan, you might see some light the rest of this week. LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love get the mighty Warriors on their home court for Game 3 and Game 4. Could the Cavs turn this series around by tying it up against Golden State?
Before getting into that, check out my Game 1 and Game 2 2017 NBA Finals recap and preview for the next games!
2017 NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Game 1: Thursday, June 1
Golden State 113 vs Cleveland 91
Analysis: Going into the NBA Finals, the Warriors were ranked first in field goal percentage allowed at 43.5%. They were also ranked first in three-point field goal percentage allowed at 32.4%. The Warriors’ defense socked Cleveland’s offense in the mouth in Game 1. It’s difficult to describe exactly how great the Warriors’ defense was.
I can list stats, like the fact that Cleveland was 30 of 86 from the field for 34.9%. But, just listing stats doesn’t do the Warriors’ defense justice. Most look at the game and say that LeBron James had a bad game. That’s just it, on offense, LeBron didn’t.
LeBron scored 28 points. He dished 8 assists, he even grabbed 15 boards… he was fantastic. But, the Warriors’ D forced LeBron into 8 turnovers. The Cavs had 20 turnovers in the game. What’s even more impressive is that the Cavaliers only had 15 assists for the entire game.
Golden State dominated Cleveland on defense. Even though the Cavaliers held the hot shooting Warriors to 42.5% from the field and 36.4% from three, the Warriors defense was so dominant that playing tough defense against Golden State didn’t matter.
On offense, the Warriors two biggest stars, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, were on fire. Durant hit 3 of 6 three-point shots. He was 14 of 26 from the field. He scored 38 points while grabbing 9 boards. KD even dished 8 assists. He made 7 of 8 from the charity stripe.
Curry was almost as good as KD. He had a double-double with 28 points and 10 assists. Curry shot 50% from three when hitting on 11 of 22. That’s just incredible.
What’s so scary about Golden State’s Game 1 win is that the Cavaliers’ defense stepped it up against everyone else. Draymond Green only hit 3 of 12 from the field and 1 of 5 from three. The other Splash Brother, Kyle Thompson, went 0 for 5 from three. Thompson made 3 of 16 shots from the field.
If the Cleveland D paid more attention to Steph and KD, they’d have a shot in Game 2, right?
Game 2: Sunday, June 4
Golden State Warriors 132, Cleveland Cavaliers 113
Analysis: When they first tipped it off this past Sunday night, it sure appeared as if Cleveland might surprise the Warriors. During the first few minutes both Kevin Love and LeBron were unstoppable. K-Love dominated inside the entire first half. After the first quarter, due to K-Love’s efforts, the Cavs were only down by 6 points, 34 to 40.
LeBron stepped it up in the first half as well. The King was so good that by the end of the second quarter, the Cavaliers had cut Golden State’s lead to 3. But, then, coming out of halftime, the Warriors dominated.
What’s crazy about Golden State is the number of storms during a game that their opponents must weather. Golden State doesn’t produce one storm that drowns you. They can, but against Cleveland it’s been the number of storms.
In the first half of Game 2, Golden State went up by 10, only for Cleveland to cut the lead to 3. Then, in the second half, Golden State went up by 11, only to have Cleveland cut it to 5. It went back and forth for most of the third quarter until the final storm of the third quarter led to a Golden State 14-point lead going into quarter 4.
That storm all but sealed the deal. Golden State forced Cleveland into a depression during Game 2. Every time Cleveland made a run, LeBron made a fantastic dunk, or Love hit a three, the Warriors started a run of their own. After a while, LeBron, Kyrie, K-Love and the rest got tired of all the bad weather going their way.
LeBron had a triple-double with 29 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds. Even with LeBron scoring a triple-double, the Warriors beat Cleveland by 19 points.
In Game 1, Cleveland had tried to employ a possession strategy. They only scored 91 points. In Game 2, the Cavs ran with the mighty Warriors. Golden State buried Cleveland.
Is Golden State unbeatable? Do the Cavaliers have any shot of tying this series when it switches to Cleveland for Game 3 and Game 4 on June 7 and June 9?
Let’s find out!
2017 NBA Finals – Remaining Games this Week
Game 3: Wednesday, June 7
Golden State at Cleveland
Game 4: Friday, June 9
Golden State at Cleveland
Game 5: Monday, June 12
Cleveland at Golden State
Analysis: There were moments, brief moments, in Game 2 where Cleveland appeared capable of beating Golden State. Don’t get me wrong. In no way was Golden State really in any danger, but if you want the glass half full, if you’re a diehard Cavs or LeBron fan, there were moments in Game 2 where you could, well, get the glass to at least a quarter full.
LeBron was aggressive in the entire first half. He looked like the best basketball player on the planet. Kevin Love was en fuego. Kyrie Irving appeared set to play like the Cavaliers’ point-guard for the entire game instead of shooting guard full time and point guard half of the time. Tristan Thompson held his own while Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert stepped it up.
But, then, everything fell apart. There’s one name I failed to mention, that name is J.R. Smith. If there is any moment that sums up Smith’s lack of confidence during this series it was in the first half when Smith grabbed a rebound and then sent it out beyond the arc.
Former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy lamented that he didn’t understand “why after players get an offensive board, they don’t go right back up with it.” Smith didn’t go right back up with it because his confidence is shot.
Why do I settle on Smith? He was huge in the playoffs last season. This season, he’s a liability, which is why Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue has already said that Shumpert will start Game 3.
That could be the move that changes the series.
Before laughing and closing this blog, hear me out. Because Smith’s outside shot is such a liability, the Warriors can close on Kyrie any time Smith is on the court. If Smith hits his shots, it’s impossible to close out on Kyrie, or even try to double him up. If Smith hits his shots, the lane also opens up for Kyrie.
But, J.R.’s been terrible. He’s a liability, which means that Shumpert gets the start. Here’s where Lue’s coaching skills truly come into play. The fact that Shumpert starts and gets more minutes, probably close to 30, means what?
It means that the Cavaliers have an extra slasher, post-up player on the court. That’s not a bad thing for the Cavs. That’s a good thing.
For Cleveland to get back into this series, they can’t fight Golden State’s strength. They can’t go tit for tat from three. They can’t expect to hit more jump shots than Golden State. They’re going to lose by 20 to 30 if they do that.
Lue’s strategy in Game 1, a possession game, wasn’t a bad strategy. He just didn’t put the parts together correctly. What Lue must do is sit Kyrie, not Shumpert, when he puts Kyle Korver or Deron Williams in the game.
Shumpert, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson should play together for at least 25 to 35 minutes. All three can post up their opponent when Golden State plays man to man. Love can hit the fade away from around 15 feet out. Shumpert hit all 4 of his free throws. The fact that he went to the line 4 times means that he was aggressive.
Then, when Tyronn goes small ball, he puts in a line-up with Kyle Korver, LeBron, Deron Williams, Kyrie, and either Shumpert, Love, or Thompson. LeBron runs the point while Kyrie tries to run off screens for spot up shots.
That’s how Cleveland can get back into the 2017 NBA Finals. Right there. I think Tyronn Lue does it because he’s a much better basketball tactician than I am.
I like the Cavs to win Game 3 and Game 4, which means next week’s NBA blog could be truly interesting!