The Cleveland Cavaliers were within a missed free throw and a boneheaded play of stealing Game One at Oracle Arena against the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals, and it was anyone’s guess how well the Cleveland Cavaliers would perform in support of LeBron James. Indeed, throughout the playoffs, the question of the supporting cast contributions has been repetitive. LeBron James would end up with 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 13 assists, but he it wasn’t enough to lift this team to victory. Kevin Love has been the second-most consistent Cleveland Cavaliers player outside of James.
But as was the case in the first game of the series, Kevin Love shot too many threes, going 3-8 from beyond the arc. Perhaps GSW head coach Steve Kerr’s decision to start athletic 7-footer JaVale McGee had something to do with that. The Golden State Warriors pulled off to an 11-point lead halfway through the first quarter but it was the passing of LeBron James came them close. Somewhat surprisingly it was George Hill who brought the extra offensive punch to help keep the Cavs relatively close.
The Shadow League on Twitter
When Steph Curry is hitting shots like this, you knew the Cavs had no chance. https://t.co/wrSWBFttna
I say “somewhat surprisingly” because missed free throws at a critical juncture of a Finals series is a large mental obstacle to overcome. SG Nick Anderson could attest to that with the Orlando Magic in the 95 NBA Finals. His missed free throws against the Houston Rockets in Game 1 rendered him ineffective for the rest of the series. Though he had five points in the first quarter, JR Smith’s game was so poisoned by doubt that he may as well had been sidelined. He shot a dismal 2-9 from the field. Kevin Love did yeoman’s work on the glass and finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. He also did as good a job as you can expect any power forward to do when switching off to defend the best shooter in the history of the National Basketball Association.
The Dubs were up 13 at the half. Although Steph Curry would erupt in the third quarter for some sweet string music, it was the smooth, consistent scoring of SF Kevin Durant that helped keep the Cavs at arm’s length like a Jerome Bettis stiff arm. Despite what some have said, the Cavaliers weathered the customary third quarter scoring uptick from the Warriors. The Cavaliers would get as close as five points in the third quarter before a fourth-quarter barrage by Stephen Curry enlightened Cavs coach Ty Lue about the folly of trying to chase around Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson on a night where they were wetting the basket like toddlers on toilet seats.
The Shadow League on Twitter
Steph Curry went off on the Cavs last night. He looks to be the leading candidate for Finals MVP right now…
Curry would break Ray Allen’s NBA Finals record for three-pointers made in a game with 9 makes. He was so ridiculous with it that Lue pulled the Cavs with a little over 4 minutes remaining. Damn, LeBron James scores 29 points, grabs 9 rebounds and dishes out 13 assists, following a game in which he scores 51 points, and both of them are losses. At this point, it’s all over but the crying. Other than an epic lapse of concentration by Golden State it’s impossible to imagine how the Cavs can win a game let alone the entire series.