After the Golden State Warriors’ dominating win in Game 1, will the Cleveland Cavaliers have an answer in Game 2 or will they be headed back home down 2-0 (8pm ET, Sunday)? Here’s our Game 2 preview with betting picks and predictions.
What if I told you that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for just 20 points and yet the Warriors still won Game 1 of the NBA Finals by 15 points? Would you believe it?
Probably not but that is exactly what happened on Thursday night as it was just one of those days for the Warriors. Aside from the Splash Brothers, the Warriors played a tight game, receiving great bench production and defensive efforts that kept the Cavaliers unbalanced. In short, it was a great way for the team to win game and a terrible way for the Cavs to lose it.
Following a series that really could have gone either way and almost did in favor of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors came out in Game 1 of the NBA Finals looking like the team that won a record 73 regular season games. Taking charge in the second half, Golden State earned the all-important game one victory by a blowout score of 104-89. Interestingly enough however, and somewhat terrifying if you are the Cavaliers, the Warriors did it while their two stars combined for just 20 points shooting a paltry 8-of-27 from the field. It was the first time all season that both Curry and Thompson failed to shoot above 35 percent all season and yet, the Warriors still won and definitely so.
The Cavaliers didn’t necessarily play poorly but their offense didn’t seem to be in sync and their defense had no answer for guys like Shaun Livingston, who led all Warrior scorers with 20 points and Andre Iguodala (pictured) and Leandro Barbosa who had a combined 23 more. In all, the three Game 1 heroes shot 18-of-24, amounting to 75 percent.
Among the two benches, the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers by 35 points. They turned the ball over just nine times in the game, five of which came off of Curry’s handle. The Cavaliers meanwhile had 17 giveaways, resulting in 25 of their opponent’s points.
Essentially, had Curry and Thompson even been responsible for half of their normal production, the Warriors probably would have walked away from this game having won by 20-25. For Cleveland, that’s the scary part.
If the Cavs can’t even stop a trio of NBA journeymen from scoring almost half of their team’s points, then Cleveland is going to have a major problem. Good players like Curry and Thompson are bound to have off nights every now and again especially after grueling series like the one Golden State played against the Thunder. That said, it is highly unlikely both are off on the same night again. Again, this is not really a positive sign for the Cavaliers. That’s not even to mention the defensive impact.
Over the course of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers looked exactly like the team we thought they were. The so-called revamped offense that the team boasted made quick work of the much lesser conference teams. Because the thing is, everyone knows the Western Conference is much better than the East and everyone also knows that the Cavaliers are by far the best team in the East.
So when it came to the Cavs facing the toughest defense they had all postseason long, those conference discrepancies were on full display. Totaling just 89 points, this was the second lowest output for Cleveland in this year’s postseason, the first coming in a 99-84 final against the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals.
I already mentioned in this preview about the offense not being in sync. Well, part of that is because Golden State’s top of the line defense never gave them a chance. Iguodala didn’t shut down LeBron James offensively necessarily, as Cleveland’s top star came just one assist away from a triple double, but he did limit his greater impact on the game. A star defender his entire career, Iguodala reduced James’ game to mostly post-up and given he has been the premier James defender over the past two finals, he actually has keyed in on his own handle, forcing a few turnovers from the ordinarily sure-handed James. Going forward, the James-Iguodala battle could make all of the difference.
Overall, Cleveland was sloppy and they’ll have to do a better job offensively and defensively if they hope to upend the prohibitive favorites. The Western Conference is just better and Game 1 certainly did nothing to disprove that. But Cleveland is also a better team than how they played on Thursday night. James claims that adjustments were needed and that he needed time to acclimatize to the tempo of the series. Well, he had the first game because if this one goes 2-0 in favor of the defending champion Warriors, even on their own home court, it could be a short series for the Cavs.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors Game 2 Betting Picks’ Predictions
If you are the Cavaliers, Game 2 is all about adjustments. It’s about James having one of those LeBron James-esque games and making Iguodala a non-factor as he absolutely can and has. It’s about Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love being active and impactful contributors. It’s about the Cleveland defense finding a way to deal with the high-powered Warriors offense which quite frankly, was a shell of itself in Game 1.
The Cavs have a lot of work to do to prove that last year was just a fluke, that the health of Love and Irving coupled with the added pressure on James, made all of the difference. Because all we know is that Golden State is only going to get better. Curry and Thompson hit some daggers at the end of the game and this could be the momentum carrying their way.
According to the USA sportsbooks’ betting odds, the Warriors are 6.5 point favorites in this one. Now in Game 1, I was hesitant to advise taking Golden State to cover in my preview but I did and my pick worked out. In Game 2, I don’t see the outcome mirroring that of Game 1. I think that James will take over the contest because he knows the importance of getting back to Cleveland with a win in their pockets. I also think that Curry and Thompson will bounce back offensively as well. So, this one, could really go either way.