The Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in a similar spot; down 0-2 in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. It was just last year these very Cavs were down 3-1 to the greatest regular season team in NBA history. It’s not a spot they want to be in but it’s one they can overcome.
Yes, this Warriors team is completely different with the addition of former league MVP Kevin Durant. His play in these finals have been sensational to say the least. Durant is a matchup nightmare, a 6’10 guy who can do it all. So far he has played both ends of the floor well, not only scoring but getting rebounds and finding open teammates and harassing LeBron James and other Cavs players on defense( 5 blocks in game 2). His averages through 2 games are 35+ points, 10+ RPG and 5+APG. Certainly a bigger impact than Harrison Barnes had last year.
However that’s not the only weapon firing on all cylinders for the Warriors thus far. Steph Curry is playing lights out basketball, shades of his MVP season last year. In game 2 Curry was cooking. Not only hitting shots but finding teammates for open looks, he finished with a triple double (32pts, 10 reb, and 11 ast).
With these two guys playing lights out ball Golden State will be tough to beat, but i believe the Cavs can beat this team in 7 as they did last year. Things must change fast in game 3 to have a chance. Here are my keys to the Cavs winning this series.
1. Can the Real Tristan Thompson Please Stand Up.
The rebound machine has gone missing in these finals . Through two games he has an abysmal 8pts and 8 rebounds. Steph Curry has more rebounds in the 2 games than Thompson (Thompson Averages 9 a game, Curry 5). His presence down low is being missed. Numerous times the Warriors have had second and third chance points off of missed shots. For the Cavs to have a chance Thompson needs to find himself.
2.Drive Drive Drive LeBron
Early in game two we saw an aggressive LeBron James. Putting his head down and driving to the bucket, either getting fouled or making the layup(and even both). For some reason LeBron abandoned this in the second half and settled for contested jumpers and 3s. LeBron must drive to the rim and create offense or the Cavs have no chance. It starts with him.
3. Put me in coach
The bench for Cleveland has been mostly poor to say the least. Besides Richard Jefferson, there really hasn’t been any spark for the Cavs off the bench. Deron Williams constantly makes terrible decisions, Iman Shumpert isn’t shooting all that well( 3-12 so far) so is the same for sharpshooter Kyle Korver (only 2 made shots in two games). The Cavs need some type of scoring to come from the bench while LeBron is resting to have a chance.
4. Kyrie Needs to be Kyrie
Kyrie Irving has been a shell of himself, especially in game 2, where he shot 34 % with 3 turnovers. He missed so many layups albeit contested , but those are shots he normally hits. Also he seems to be settling for contested jumpers and iso ball early in the shot clock. We all know Kyrie is capable of taking over games. Cleveland hopes to see the real Kyrie in Game 3.
5. Love Love
Kevin Love has been a bright spot in this series through the two games. Once rumored to be a pawn in trade talks, Love has shined bright here in these finals. Despite the losses, Love has been active on the boards (franchise record 21 rebounds in game 1) and scoring the ball, he had 27 pts on 52% shooting in game 2 . He is playing with a high motor which posses a problem for the Warriors. If Love continues this great play , that gives the Warriors another problem to deal with besides the King. Get Love involved early and often , as they did in game 2. It was a 3 point Warriors lead at half.
Apart from these keys, the Cavs need to shoot the 3 better, only 8-29 in game 2. They also have to be better on the defensive end, although they forced 20 turnovers, there were still way too many open shots for the Warriors. That’s just asking for trouble.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are down 0-2 to perhaps the greatest team in NBA history. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are firing on all cylinders. Warrior bench players are coming out and playing good minutes. Klay Thompson seems to be out of his shooting slump.
However, i predict LeBron and the Cavs will overcome their bad play and win their second straight championship in 7 games if they follow my keys to success.
Game 3 is Wed. at 9pm est. on ABC