Monday, June 05, 2017

Game 2 - Depth and Defense

Cleveland has enough star power to keep things competitive through much of the first half, but the Cavs lack of depth has hurt their chances in the first two games of the 2017 NBA Finals. LeBron James tied Magic Johnson for the most Finals triple doubles in history with 8. He scored 29 on excellent shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished 14 assists. Kevin Love added 27 and 7 after getting off to a hot start. Kyrie Irving didn't shoot well for the second straight game, but added 19.

The Cavs' three starts combined for 75 of the team's 113 points.No other Cav has scored in double figures in the series and almost all of the role players' points have come in garbage time. Meanwhile, Golden State's stars are playing fantastic, but so are the role players.

Kevin Durant poured in 33 points on nearly 60% shooting. He added 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Stephen Curry posted a triple double- only the second time in Finals history that opposing players garnered triple doubles in the same game- including 32 points. Klay Thompson woke up offensively with 22 points and again prevented Irving from shooting well. Draymond Green had his customary good all-around game.

While the centers unexpectedly played well in Game 1, the Warriors' reserve guards stepped up in Game 2. Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark both scored 10. Andre Iguodala had a momentum-turning block and added 5 assists.

While Golden State's depth has played a key role in the first two games, Cleveland's abhorrent defense has also been a major story. It starts at the top. Head coach Tyronn Lue thought his Cleveland bunch executed the defensive game plan well in the first quarter, only acknowledging some ill-advised fouls. Golden State scorched the Cavs with 40 in the first, so it would be scary to see how many the Warriors would have tallied if the Cavs hadn't executed Lue's plan. Perhaps Lue's strategy was to allow easy buckets in transition and open threes in the halfcourt. If so, the Cavs executed his game plan well.

Cleveland is simply the most high profile team to forego playing defense. The Cavs don't get back in transition, and when they do, they worry more about the shooters than stopping the ball. They don't rotate well and don't double team, which allows Durant and Curry to do whatever they want with the ball. They don't protect the rim well either. Most damning, the Cavs don't give much effort on a consistent basis when the other team has the ball, even in the Finals. It's embarrassing.

Golden State torched Cleveland and scored 132 points to take a 2-0 series lead.

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