Without Kyrie Irving, down 1-0 with Game 2 in Oakland, the Cavs didn't appear to have much of a chance. Irving's explosiveness of the dribble not only leads to his own points in the paint, but opens up opportunities for his teammates. His defense can change games when he feels inspired. But a broken kneecap has sidelined him for the remainder of the series.
The Cavs plodded on. Irving's replacement, Matthew Dellavedova. He primarily guarded the season's MVP, Stephen Curry, and did an admirably job. Curry missed 13 of his 15 three point attempts and turned the ball over six times. Dellavedova, who was a source of controversy for his hard-nosed play in the Eastern Conference Finals, grabbed five rebounds from the point guard position, including one key offensive board late in the fourth quarter.
After a close contest, Cleveland stretched the lead to eleven with three minutes to go. In crunch time, J.R. Smith committed three ill-advised fouls. In the fourth, he grabbed Curry in the backcourt, and touched Harrison Barnes as Barnes was dunking home two. Those extra three points were crucial as the Warriors stormed back to tie the game. LeBron missed a game winning shot and Tristan Thompson, who had missed some key free throws late in the fourth, grabbed the rebound but missed the putback.
Cleveland raced to a five point lead early int he overtime. LeBron, who scored 39 points on 35 shots in 50 minutes, was the catalyst. He ended with an incredible triple double that included 18 rebounds and 13 assists.The Warriors came back. Their forwards Barnes and Draymond Green each scored in double figures once again. Though Curry scored fewer points than field goal attempts, Klay Thompson more efficient in leading the way for the Warriors with 34.
Dellavedova's lone offensive rebound came with ten seconds left down one. He sunk both free throws. He forced a Curry miss on the other end and LeBron made one of two free throws to increase the lead to two. Curry turned it over and the Cavs had one. LeBron and Dellavedova were the most forceful in celebrating and rightfully so. Though Timofey Mozgov added 17 important points and 11 rebounds early, he didn't play much in the clutch. Tristan Thompson did and grabbed 14 rebounds, including seven offensive.
The Cavs tied the series at one with a 95-93 victory. It's the first time in NBA history that the first two games of the Finals went to overtime.