Ok, so Game 1 is what most of us expected – Warriors taking the 1-0 lead in the series. So where to next?
How does Cleveland adjust and push to take the home court away from the Oakland juggernaut?? What do the Warriors need to consider to ensure that doesn’t happen and allow them to travel to Ohio with the Cavs still holding the donut in the scoreline?
Here’s my take on a couple of points for each team as we look a little over 12 hours before tip off for Game 2…
For me the Cavs looked a little light on up front once you go past LeBron, Love and Thompson. Their move to go small makes them too small against the Warriors this season. Last time around with Barnes in place of KD, they could get away with Jefferson, James Jones, or even go really guard heavy. But now Durant is in town, GSW is a different beast. Yes, maybe there is no one else available who can really stop him. And there certainly isn’t a mini-LeBron to put out there in short bursts to take the load either. But perhaps Lue needs to take a bit of a look at Channing Frye. He’s got some length to alter shots in the paint while the other bigs rest, plus he can help stretch the D at the other end of the floor with his spot up shooting. It’s a massive risk on the boards, so he’d have to be paired with Love or Thompson at all times. But surprised to see there weren’t a few minutes thrown his way as Game 1 headed for the blowout. So in Game 2 he needs some burn – Lue cant go back to Cleveland in a 0-2 hole and not know what Frye can bring to the table (or can’t bring to the table) in this series.
The other obvious deficiency is beyond the arc – especially with J.R Smith and Kyle Korver. To be a combined 1/5 from range, simply won’t get it done for Cleveland. For them to be any chance at taking any game this series, I believe they need to see 5-6 3PM combined from those two. Especially Korver. The Wine and Gold bought him in specifically for his 3-point shooting – well it wasn’t for his efence was it (yes, no ‘d’ deliberately!), so 0/3 in Game 1 is a slap in the face! The big-3 were about right for the Cavs, on averages you’re not going to expect too much more unless super-human efforts are rolled out (lets face it, which is likely at some stages in this series). The role players need to provide more – starting with the outside shooting to help clear the lane for James and Irving to penetrate more easily.
It would be easy to say the Warriors don’t need to do anything here. Clone Game 1 and they will be halfway to their second title in 3 seasons. However any unit featuring the best player on the planet today is unlikely to trot out the same performance again – not to mention this is GSW v CLE III so we need to see a ripping contest!
Klay Thompson just has to get going sooner rather than later. He’s too good a shooter not to. To have him only score 6 in 36+ minutes of court time is good to know there are points left on the table uncollected in Game 1. So try and get him some good looks early and get him going. Set some double picks, wipe off the defender or force an unfavourable switch where he can get some good looks. If Klay gets his groove on, while Curry, Durant and Green continue on their merry way, the Cavs need not worry about return flights to the Bay Area!
Otherwise, I think the Warriors need to be prepared for a far more physical Cavs in Game 2, and in that sense keep an eye on the fouls. Limit the needless reaching and stay out of any foul trouble in what will undoubtedly be a tougher contest to keep all the best stallions on the floor at crunch time.
The gap looked too wide in Game 1 to consider the Cavs will make the necessary adjustments to tie up the series. With a tougher game, I expect we see the Warriors move to Cleveland up 2-0 after an 8 point win in Game 2. So long as the improvement is evident from Cleveland, they can take some promise back to the home confines of The Q and seek the elusive W’s in this series.
(Side Note: WebTMG has predicted a GSW 4-2 series win)