Game 1 did not exactly go well for the Cavaliers. The Warriors dominated almost every aspect of the game, particularly the turnovers battle, which led to a massive disparity in total shot attempts.
The Cavaliers had 20 turnovers as compared to the Warrior’s 4 (which was tied for a playoff record). The Warriors then had 20 more shots than the Cavaliers attempted, which is a terrible situation to be in when you are facing one of the best offensive teams that has ever been assembled in NBA history.
Not to mention, the Warriors were having an extremely easy time on offense while the opposite was true for the Cavs. Kevin Durant was able to glide to the rim with ease throughout the game and was absolutely unstoppable on the break. The Cavs sold out to prevent threepointers in fast break sets and the Warriors were able to take advantage of that by simply attacking the rim.
The Cavs just did not have the personnel to be able to stop the Warrior’s attack, as Kevin Love was often tasked with guarding Durant in one-on-one situations, which is certainly not what you want to see.
This is the problem that the Warriors face teams with, even the “small” lineups that the Warriors can throw out there are featuring guys who are 6’7” and above. Durant is probably close to 7 feet, Klay Thompson is 6’7”, Draymond is 6’7”, and Andre Iguadola is 6’6”. If you can’t punish them when the Warriors go small, then you are almost certain to lose the pace and shooting game, which is exactly what happened in Game 1.
The Warriors also got a great game out of Zaza and JaVale McGee, who were both able to grab offensive rebounds and were reasonably able to protect the rim on defense. Tristan Thompson was essentially erased from action in the first game and he is probably the key to the Cavs success.
All of this goes to show how scary good the Warriors are. They did not even play particularly well on offense in Game 1, even though their defense was amazing. The game is just so much easier for them due to their star power and absurd riches of shooting talent. The Cavs are too locked in on their own players they are guarding to be able to effectively help out on defense.
So what has to change in Game 2 for the Cavs to have a chance? Basically everything.
The Cavs’ role players have to show up. Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, and J.R. Smith all shot terribly from range. Kyrie Irving needs to get going, although his shooting troubles in Game 1 were primarily due to Klay’s awesome defense. LeBron needs to take care of the ball better, as he was trying to force things too much against a defense that was ready for him to attack.
Above all, the transition defense has to improve. The Cavs will likely try to slow the game down in order to limit the possessions game and allow themselves to get set on defense. However, all it takes is a five-minute stretch where you allow yourself to run with the Warriors, and all the sudden they can blow open a game by 20 points. That is all it takes.
Tonight is a huge game, both for the Cavs and to hopefully stem the parity question of the NBA. I would bet on the Cavs making some serious adjustments tonight, but it is also very possible that the Warriors still have another gear they can hit.
This is the game thread for tonight. Happy chatting away.