The Cleveland Cavaliers did so many things well against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but what does Cleveland have to do to win game 2 & are they worthy of our NBA picks?
The Cleveland Cavaliers Can Win Because...
They should be able to continue to pound against Golden State near the basket. The Cavaliers got 44 points from LeBron James in Game 1. He's pretty good. Yet, the big reason why the Cavs have to think they can win Game 2 and ultimately win this series is that their big guys, Timofey Mozgov (16 points in Game 1) and Tristan Thompson (15 rebounds in Game 1, six on offense), were definitely better than Golden State's combination of Draymond Green (4 of 13 from the field, only six rebounds) and Andrew Bogut (four points and seven rebounds) over the course of this game. Mozgov was intimidating in his defense at the rim in Game 1, and Thompson was continuously beating Green and others for rebounds, just as he's done to every other team he's faced throughout the playoffs. He has a non-stop motor that Golden State just couldn't contain. As long as Mozgov and Thompson continue to win these battles inside, Cleveland is going to come up with more possessions that LeBron and others can convert into added points. The ample amount of rebounds from Thompson also means that Golden State can't get out and run the floor as much as it would like to. This influences the tempo of the game and brings the pace more to what the Cavaliers want.
Cleveland should also like the fact that Golden State reserves Shaun Livingston (2 of 6) and Leandro Barbosa (1 of 4) combined for only three field goals and six total points in 25 minutes. The Warriors were erratic enough in Game 1 to suggest that they're not going to play consistently well in this series, and that's how Cleveland can swipe Game 2.
The Golden State Warriors Can Win Because...
They didn't play that well. Andrew Bogut got destroyed by Timofey Mozgov, 16 points to 4. Draymond Green picked up four fouls in the third quarter and five midway through the fourth. He was not as influential on the rest of Game 1 as he had hoped to be. Stephen Curry made only two three-point shots all night. Klay Thompson was a very ordinary 5 of 14 from the field.
Meanwhile, Cleveland did a lot of things well. You already saw the above stats about the big men outplaying Golden State's big men. LeBron hit 18 of 38 shots, very nearly 50 percent. Kyrie Irving was 10 of 22 and played quality defense, blocking Stephen Curry's layup attempt in the final half-minute of the fourth quarter. Cleveland looked like Golden State's equal in a game played on the Warriors' home court. Cleveland's energy was great. The Cavaliers committed only 11 turnovers in an overtime game; they committed under 10 turnovers in 48 minutes of regulation play. They did so many things well... and yet they still lost.
Golden State was rusty in Game 1. The Warriors now get to regroup and work out the kinks in Game 2, which is still at home. Moreover, Kyrie Irving got hurt late in Game 1. He is going to get an MRI on Friday, so no one exactly knows what will happen. However, his body sure looks fragile, and if you were a betting person, you would probably say that Kyrie's ability to play really good defense against Golden State has been compromised for the rest of this series. Golden State has to be a more attractive betting choice,
The Kyrie Irving situation is very concerning for Cleveland, if for no other reason than the fact that he scored 23 points and played good defense in Game 1. Without him, it becomes a lot harder for Cleveland to win on the road in Oakland. The Greek opened up the Warriors at -7.5 and that’s a telling sign as that’s two points higher than they closed for Game 1. The Cavs are overmatched, so take the Warriors with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Golden State -7.5 at The Greek