Lebron James Triple double comes a close second to the clutch plays of Delly
From the outskirts of Northeast Ohio to the inner city of Cleveland everybody is living and dying and then living again with the Cavs. Last night was a roller coaster of a game in Oakland that had twists and turns to rival anything a Cedar Point roller coaster can offer. The Cavs came out with a simple game plan…..get Lebron the ball in an attack position and let him get to the paint. He responded in a big way scoring 10 points in the first quarter and it was obvious from the outset that the Cavs missing Kyrie just meant that the style of basketball was going to regress into a 90’s looking Knicks Heat game. Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova a started at the guard positions and were all over Steph Curry and Klay Thompson from the outset. Steph was obviously bothered by the Delly D and intense physicality fighting through ball screens and off ball screens to really make life difficult for the MVP. Klay Thompson on the other hand was lights out all game. It seemed like he made tough contested shots look routine and really kept the Warriors within striking distance.
Coach Blatt made some adjustments from Game 1 pounding the ball inside and a bit more player movement were evident from the outset. Most possessions still ended up with either Lebron in a high or side ball screen or at the mid post looking to score. Like my dad used to say….”Michael when you got a great horse….you run him!” Well Blatt, Tyronn Lue and the rest of the staff deserve as much credit as Lebron for the game plan and Lebron for toughing out almost 50 minutes on the court. I will predict we don’t see LBJ on the bench again this series. If I was coaching, unless he asks to come out, he’s playing all game…. they just can’t afford to rest him in a series this tight with the lack of offensive playmakers available left on the roster.
Coach Kerr deserves some credit for wrestling momentum back to the W’s in the 4th quarter when he went to the hack a Tristan plan and the W’s hit a couple 3’s to get back into the game. Down the stretch of the game it was as if JR Smith wanted to be officially exiled from Cleveland…fouling Klay Thompson on a 3 to give up a 4 point play, Harrison Barnes on a late dunk for an and one and Steph Curry 90- feet from the basket and of course he buries both free throws. It’s almost inconceivable for 1 of those plays to be made but for the same player to make all three and almost cost his team the game was amazing and Coach Blatt has to consider having Shumpert (Hit a massive 3 in OT!) on the floor instead moving forward in this series.
In a game where Lebron scores 39 points on 35 FGA and makes 14 free throws its undeniable how instrumental he is to EVERYTHING the Cavs are doing. He also had 16 rebounds, 11 assists and only 3 turnovers as well as playing excellent D. One possession in particular on a missed jumper late in the game it was Lebron who grabbed the offensive rebound to keep the possession alive and got fouled on the putback. On the last possession it was a Lebron drive to set up James Jones for the corner 3 to put the Cavs up 2….as it turned out Jones missed and Delly turned into not only a tough Aussie PG but forever more a Cavalier legend with a huge offensive rebound amongst the bigs. He steps up and calmly buries 2 free throws before playing tremendous D on Steph Curry and forcing a tough contested shot which Lebron rebounded to ice the game.
I have said all along the Cavs are going to win in 6. I firmly believe that is going to happen because in my sports knowledge I believe a great D trumps great O. The Cavs are playing the best defensive basketball all year in this series and Timofey Mozgov has been as good offensively as he has been on D. He scored 17 points to go with 11 boards and was the backline of the D in the 30 minutes he played. He didn’t block any shots but changed a lot and he attempted 12 free throws, consistently caught passes and went hard for dunks causing foul trouble for the Warriors front line. He and Tristan Thompson were both immense for the Cavs with TT adding 14 rebound helping the Cavs to a 55-45 rebound edge…which as it turns out Cleveland hasn’t lost all playoffs when winning the boards.
For the Warriors I have already mentioned how great Klay Thompson was but the story of the night was how affected Steph Curry was by the Cavs D, and in particular Delly, his overall lack of effectiveness from the field as he missed 18 shots and had 6 turnovers but did make some big free throws and a late layup to keep the game in doubt for the Cavs. If the Warriors are going to win he will need to be far better.
You can see Kerr like Blatt has tightened the rotation and both played only 7 players a lot of minutes. I expected that to happen and always felt the bench advantage was overblown and wouldn’t make much of a difference as the top 5 players would log the majority of the minutes and all of the minutes down the stretch.
The main thing everyone can take away from this game and look forward to for the rest of the series. It has finally begun….the Cavs have taken home court advantage back to Cleveland and with it the confidence to win the next 2 games. They have the best player in the series and he tilts the series advantage so far in Cleveland’s favour that people are talking about the parade through downtown on the streets of Cleveland. Truth be told in a way this is how it was meant to happen….Cleveland is an underdog city, filled with tough people who live through the cold of winter to arrive at the change of the seasons to spring and then summer heat. The Cavs had to endure their own winter and right when things changed to summer for them and the big 3 were rolling, as it always does in Cleveland, something happened soon to be called the shoulder pull and then the kneecap and now the inevitable Cleveland history of sports tragedies was in full effect again. But not this time! With an underdog Aussie PG playing his heart out and making some of the most clutch plays in Cavs history and absolutely stifling the MVP the LBJ led Cavs have this place ready to explode!
There will be some adjustments made for round 3 but we can see this gritty bunch from Cleveland have wrestled control of this series away from the Warriors and will control tempo and the glass again and will win games 3 and 4 at home. In a town as championship starved as Cleveland this had to happen this way….take away 2 of the big 3 and make the BOAT the underdog. Keep telling him how he can’t do it and watch as he ends the drought and leads this team and this city to the title in the most awe inspiring way possible and forever carves his name into NBA Finals lore.