In a slow, deliberate, and downright ugly game, the Cleveland Cavaliers came out victorious in game 2 of the NBA Finals by a score of 95-93. While the game was quite exciting, it cannot be doubted that the game lacked elegance.
The play of LeBron James was the only hope coming into the game for the Cavaliers and he showed up in spectacular fashion. LeBron had 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists in the first half alone. James played all but one minute in the first half. LeBron has played over 1,000 NBA games in his career and this is only the second time he has put up 20-6-6 by halftime. Klay Thompson had an equally sensational performance for the Warriors, with 20 points in the first half on 9-13 shooting, while only playing 17 minutes.
Thompson’s play made up for the lackluster play early in the game by MVP Stephen Curry, who in the first half scored a measly eight points on 2-10 shooting. Matthew Dellavedova, playing for the injured Kyrie Irving, was a defensive powerhouse when guarding Stephen Curry, leading to his early difficulties. The Cavaliers were +14 in the first half while the Australian was playing. Another underwhelming first half performance was displayed by J.R. Smith, the erratic sharpshooter of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Smith shot 2-7 during the half and was -10.
Steve Kerr spoke of how the Kyrie Irving injury will affect the Warriors’ play style with the San Jose Mercury News.
“We have to do what we do. There are injuries all the time. This is a team that has dealt with this throughout the playoffs. I’m talking about Cleveland dealing with Kevin Love’s absence, dealing with Kyrie’s absence the last series, and they’re still a great team. Dellavedova has come in and done a hell of a job. They’re still the same issues that we’re having to deal with, so we’ve got to be on top of our game regardless of who is out there, and that’s all we’re focused on.”
No one seems to know what caused the injury to Irving, but David Blatt chimed into the discussion.
“My take on the injury was that he got kneed in the side of his knee,” he said Saturday. “It was a contact injury, and the result was a fracture of the kneecap.”
The game remained close throughout the half and the Cavaliers led at the half by a score of 47-45.
The third quarter was one to forget, the teams scored a total of 29 points. The score at the end of the quarter was 62-59 in favor of the Cavaliers. This was the first time all season that the Warriors had been held under 60 points going into the final quarter of play.
After the electrifying first half, LeBron James obtained a triple-double with four minutes left in the game. This was the 13th of his playoff career, second all-time, but still 17 behind Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
The game continued down the same road for the majority of the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers dictated the tempo and hit every big shot necessary for their victory. The Cavaliers had a 10-point lead late in the game and the game looked to be over until a late run, sparked by a miraculous four-point play by Klay Thompson, brought the Warriors into overtime with great momentum. LeBron James had an opportunity at the end of regulation to take the lead back, but was unable to convert the highly-contested layup, after a Stephen Curry teardrop tied the game with just over seconds to spare.
In overtime, the Cavs came out quick, springing to a 5-point lead. That lead was diminished quickly by a determined Warriors squad, to no avail as the Cavaliers came up clutch and came up with a very emotional victory, and kept them in this series.
Matthew Dellavedova may not have stuffed the stat sheet, but he came up with great play after great play. His scrappiness gave him three steals, and his lockdown defense on the Stephen Curry led to the Cavaliers being +15 with him on the court.
David Blatt almost lost his team this victory by not playing Russian center Timofey Mozgov in the fourth quarter and overtime after a dominating performance. In 29 minutes of play, Mozgov scored 17 points and came up with 11 rebounds.
LeBron James is now 9-0 in game 2’s when he is defeated in the first game of the series. Stephen Curry’s performance continued to go downhill in the second half. The MVP scored 19 points on 5-23 shooting and was an awful 2-15 from beyond the arc. His 13 missed three point attempts are the most in NBA Finals history.
This game was a surprise to say the least. Coming into the game, the Warriors were favored by eight points to win this NBA Finals installment at home. Most saw the Cleveland Cavaliers as a lost cause without all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, but did not seem to have much trouble without him. Let’s just say that this series just became much more intriguing.
Game 3 will take place in Cleveland on Tuesday, and tip-off will occur at 9:00 p.m. ET.
[Image Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images]