The Golden State Warriors took a 2-0 series lead in the 2017 NBA Finals with a – win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. Kevin Durant added another stellar performance similar to Game 1 with 33 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five blocks. Stephen Curry added a gaudy triple-double with 33 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.
LeBron James led Cleveland with a triple-double of his own: 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists. Kevin Love added 27 points and seven rebounds.
1. The Cavaliers were right there with the Warriors in Game 2 until they broke it open late in the third quarter. What did you see that was working for them?
Allen: The key was LeBron James. When he looked to press the issue and the offense operated through his hands, they Cavaliers played efficient basketball. The turnovers from Stephen Curry and the Warriors benefited Cleveland early and James was able to capitalize off of those opportunities. When he orchestrated their offense and played aggressively, the Cavaliers were at their best.
John-Baptiste: LeBron remained aggressive for as long as he could. Consistent drives to the basket with his head down continued to put pressure on Golden State. This along with acknowledging Kevin Love’s mismatches in the post gave them timely baskets.
Cortes: Simple. It was LeBron doing LeBron things for the Cavaliers. He dominated most aspects of the game for the Cavs whether it was scoring, finding his teammates or rebounding. Everything for the Cavs starts and stops with LeBron James, how he plays dictates how the Cavs play. It was nice to see Kevin Love provide a good scoring output as well, as he set the tone early for the Cavs.
Kirkland: LeBron was much more aggressive and it was a good game from Kevin Love as well. The Cavs were much more physical offensively and defensively which will be key going forward.
2. LeBron played really well overall, especially in the first half. Is it just a matter of him needing to do even more? Is 18 shots enough for him?
Allen: I don’t believe it’s about the amount of shots for LeBron. It’s more of the type of shots that are a factor. When he’s going to the rack and playing downhill like what we saw in the first half, that’s when he’s at his best. But when he begins to settle for his jumper like what he did in the second half, that’s when things become a problem. Going forward, fatigue may be an issue. LeBron James was worn out in that game and since he has to do so much for them to have a chance, I’m not sure how much he can sustain.
John-Baptiste: I wouldn’t say he necessarily needs to do more, but he does need to continue at least with his current pace. He had a triple-double in Game 2 and realized mismatches that were available. His 18 shots, though, are not enough. He needs to take around 24-25 shots per game. If there are shot attempts to be had, and the supporting cast isn’t filling in, he might as well shoot them.
Cortes: LeBron just has to keep playing like how he’s playing, like how he did in the first half. The second half, however, he was beginning to tire out, as he only took 6 shots the rest of the half. It would be nice if his teammates decide to step up and help with the scoring as well; JR Smith was scoreless, Tristan Thompson was a non-factor yet again, and Kyrie is just ice cold shooting the ball. If his teammates decide to play the same, LeBron would need to take more shots for his team.
Kirkland: LeBron’s productivity cannot be measured by shots. In the 3rd quarter, it was evident that he was spent. He can only do but so much. The man was pushing a triple-double at halftime! He settled for more jumpers after the break but at that point, the Warriors were clicking and you cannot exchange 2s for 3s. He is operating at max capacity.
3. Be honest. Do you think the Warriors are about to sweep this thing?
Allen: No and I say no just out of respect for LeBron. I think in Game 3, he will continue to be aggressive, the calls will fall in their way, the loose balls will bounce their way, and their role players will hit shots. Role players tend to shoot better at home and when you combine that with LeBron’s greatness, I’ll give them a win in Game 3. But after that, it’s a wrap.
John-Baptiste: Do I think they can? Absolutely. Do I think they will? No. There have been times in the past where I’ve doubted LeBron, and every single time he proved me wrong. Not allowing that again. I’m giving him at least 1 game.
Cortes: No because LeBron is more than capable of stealing a game from the Warriors in this series. LeBron usually has those games where he can not be stopped on both ends and him having that type of game in the next two games is not out of the realm. The supporting cast of LeBron is also bound to have a solid all-around effort after two duds in Oracle Arena.
Kirkland: Yes. LeBron had one of the most efficient triple doubles you will ever see and they got blown out. The Cavs are outmatched athletically and depth wise. The Warriors have 4 guys who can give you 20. I know LBJ is an all timer but sometimes not even that is enough. Warriors 4-0.
4. We can assume Cleveland is going to play with their backs against the wall at home in Game 3. Who comes up big for them?
Allen: Game 3 will be the Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith game. Irving has been blanketed and J.R. Smith has just been off. However, being home and having that support by the crowd will give them a boost and I think they’ll come out hot early.
John-Baptiste: Kyrie. This is the same pattern we saw last year and asked ourselves “where is Kyrie”? With a long-awaited home game and a rejuvenated Cavs team as a whole, I think he’ll be able to finally break things open.
Cortes: A big time player like Kyrie doesn’t stay down too long, so he seems like the likely candidate to have a breakout game during G3 in Cleveland. Seems like a good time for Kyrie to have one of those games where he hits every acrobatic layup he throws at the rim.
Kirkland: LeBron will come up big this entire series. So in game 3 once again he will keep them as much in the game as he possibly can. He is playing his best basketball but it will be overshadowed by the greatness of Golden State.
5. What’s your gut pick for Game 3?
Allen: Like I mentioned earlier, I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers will win Game 3. LeBron James will be aggressive and everything will go their way on their home court. I have too much respect for LeBron to believe that he’ll get swept in this series.
John-Baptiste: I think the Cavs come out blazing. It’s tough to beat a team with their backs against the wall, even if they’re inferior. This Cavs team has enough talent and shooting to get Game 3 and I think they get it done. The confidence you’ve seen from the Warriors role players will likely be shown by the Cavs players. Specifically Tristan, JR, and Korver.
Cortes: Cavaliers will start off the game on absolute fire with their home crowd cheering them on. LeBron does his thing while players like Kyrie pick it up as well. The Warriors might try to make a run to keep the game interesting in the fourth but might be too little too late by that time. This game is the most “stealable” for the Cavs and they could definitely pull it off.
Kirkland: Unpopular pick but Warriors big. KD and Steph show no signs of slowing down. It is just unfair that they can pull Livingston and Iggy off the bench and suffer little drop off. We are looking at the next NBA dynasty.