After the Warriors’ game two win over the Cavs, here are my initial thoughts. More on the podcast tomorrow.
1) Good effort, but too much to handle
We need to realize that Cleveland threw everything at this game in terms of effort, lineups, and defensive alignments which allowed them to play better than they did in game one. At halftime, the Cavs did a lot right and the Warriors committed eight turnovers in the first quarter, but they were still down by three. I know I have said this a lot, but remind me why we thought the defending champs had a chance?
2) Defense wins you games
Even in a game in which 245 points are scored, defense can win you the game. That’s right, even in today’s NBA, defense still wins you championships. The Cavaliers threw anything and everything at the Warriors’ big two to the tune of Shumpert guarding Durant for large portions of the game. While LeBron was better defensively tonight than in game one, he still doesn’t have an answer for Durant consistently. At the end of the day, Cleveland still doesn’t have anyone to cover Durant or Curry. Every time they got close, Golden State would go on a shooting spree and make it a ten point game which is demoralizing and frustrating.
3) LeBron can only do so much
I said coming into this game that the best player in the world needed to put his team on his back and he did exactly that at halftime: 16 points, six rebounds, and ten assists. But I tweeted it at the time, “how is he going to look in the fourth quarter?” The answer: exhausted. Forget the fourth, what about the third quarter when ABC showed shots of James being absolutely winded and running on fumes. Let’s remember that this is after nine days before this series and then two days off in between game one and two. Coming from a “LeBron guy,” he just can’t keep up with the pace the Warriors play at.
1) Kevin Durant
Yet again, he was the best player on the floor. While Durant is obviously a good shooter, his passing is fun to watch as well. Plus, I’ll take consistency over flashy and that is exactly what the former MVP is. Here are his scoring numbers by quarter: eight, seven, seven, and nine. Plus five blocks? Are you kidding me? He is really fun to watch, don’t take it for granted.
2) Steph Curry
The only reason I didn’t put him number one is because of his zero points in the second quarter. With that said, it was still an absolute pleasure to watch. On top of all the obvious talents he offers, Curry added ten rebounds. For a kid who is only six foot, three, that supports the fact that rebounding is 90 percent effort. Him and Curry together is fun.
3) LeBron James
You all saw what I wrote earlier, but he still produced an incredible performance: 29 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists, and three steals. I think we may be seeing the beginning of what is LeBron becoming tired and that really isn’t even a hot take. Even on his bad night though, he puts up that performance!? I think James can become less aggressive as the games get tougher, but I didn’t feel like he did that tonight.
1) Kyrie Irving
The point guard, who has become known as the “closer” of the Cavs, has been anything but. When the Warriors start to get on one of those scoring sprees, someone from Cleveland has to respond and it can’t always be LeBron. If Irving doesn’t step up in one of these games, get out the brooms.
2) Kevin Love
After a very good 24 minutes, the forward disappeared to the tune of just 13 meaningless points in the second half. When the moment gets big, Love has not been good enough, consistently enough. Plus, in that first half he was just receiving a lot of what LeBron gave him which is fine, but at some point you have to be aggressive and earn your own shot.
3) Draymond Green
In both games, the emotional rock for Golden State has been too emotional. Two first quarter fouls put him in early trouble again which is preventing him from putting in a consistent performance. Imagine if Green was out there in this series too. I would say the Warriors need him to be better, but they can do it without him.
Tomorrow: Podcast with my full breakdown of this game
-Article by Nick Friend