The Cavaliers have been raked over the coals for their Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors despite holding Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to a combined 20 points on 27 field goal attempts. The bench was worked over in a serious way, with Shawn Livingston leading a 45-10 advantage, and the offense was mucked up by the Warriors switching. LeBron James is now 1-6 in NBA Finals Game 1's, but has won the last nine times he's lost the first game of an NBA Playoffs series. LeBron is a cerebral sort, so taking some time to figure out his opponent on a stage like this makes sense. The Cavaliers will have to hope the trend holds against one of the toughest home court advantages in NBA history.
Who?: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors (GSW leads series 1-0)
When?: 8 PM ET
Where?: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Where on my eyeballs? ABC
Enemy blog: Golden State Of Mind
Music: Recovery - Frank Turner
What to Watch For:
- The Cavaliers must figure out a way to attack the Warriors switching in a way that doesn't muck up their offensive flow. They gave into what the Warriors want by forcing post-up after post-up after a smaller defender switched onto either LeBron James or Kevin Love. They need to be better.
- How the Cavaliers pick up the Warriors in semi-transition will be key. They were a jumbled mess trying to pikc up their original man after the Warriors had switched every which way on defense, and they allowed at least 4 or 5 wide open dunks while trying to figure out who was guarding who. That can't happen again.
- Will the bench find a way to make an impact on this game? They were a complete non-factor in Game 1, much in part of the offensive flow issues caused by the switching. Channing Frye was played off the floor in the first stanza. Can he get loose and hurt the smaller Warriors defenders with his high release on closeouts?
- Kyrie Irving took a lot of flak for hero ball after Game 1, some of which was justified. He needs to finish at the rim much better, and if he's going to take pull up jumpers, they may as well be behind the three point line. He also cannot fall asleep on defense.
- LeBron James had a fine box score, but it didn't feel like he was able to put his stamp on Game 1. He had a few bad defensive possessions where he lost his man, and wasn't able to score efficiently out of the post. He'll need to be better.
- Falling down 1-0 is brutal for the Cavaliers, but the series will look so different if they leave Oracle with a 1-1 split. That will mean they can survive losing a game in Cleveland, or leave their time there with a dominant series lead. This one's important.
The Warriors have now stymied the Cavaliers offense for three games. It's on Tyronn Lue and his staff to find a way to open up space for the Cavaliers to bomb away from three and get a few easy buckets. I think he passes the first major strategic test of his Finals career, and LeBron James finds another level. The Cavaliers steal their win at Oracle, 114-109.