The Cleveland Cavaliers have given no indication they can win the NBA Finals based on the first two games.
The Golden State Warriors won both the first two games rather easily, winning by 22 points in game one, and 19 on Sunday night.
This makes Wednesday night’s game three a must win for Tyronn Lue’s squad. Lose that one, and it looks like a sweep for the Warriors, not only in The Finals, but an unprecedented undefeated run throughout the playoffs.
Can the Cavs win game three and get back into this series? Of course, no team is unbeatable, but it will be very difficult for the wine and gold if they continue to play at they did in Oakland.
First, we believe they cannot continue to play at the Warriors’ pace. We understand Lue normally wants the Cavs to play fast, up tempo, but Golden State is better at it than Cleveland, so you must try something else.
That is not to say never run. When the Warriors miss a three and it develops into a long rebound, grab it and go, and get an easy hoop.
We said in the middle of the regular season that no team’s defense is more dependent on its offense than the Cavaliers. That is because, by and large, their transition defense is poor, maybe because they have some age on them.
So, if they don’t have a fast break opportunity, slow the game down. Take as much time as you can on the shot clock and still get a decent shot. Keep the number of possessions down, and perhaps you can frustrate Golden State with the slow pace, forcing them to take quick, bad shots.
Second, you must take care of the basketball. You simply can’t turn the ball over, giving the Warriors easy looks.
The wine and gold also need to continue to attack the basket. Steve Kerr’s team doesn’t really have a rim protector, particularly when they go small, and you have to take advantage of that.
LeBron James and Kevin Love have done a good job around the rim.
By the way, speaking of Love, hasn’t he laid to rest the theory that he can’t play against the Warriors? He had a 21 rebound game in the first contest, and scored 27 points on Sunday.
They also need Kyrie Irving to play like an all-star. Irving has shot just 40% in the first two games, and made curious shot choices both nights. It was odd to see Irving trying to drive on Kevin Durant in game two.
The Cavs have to do better from three point range. In the regular season, the wine and gold actually shot better than the Warriors from beyond the arc, but have hit just 31.7% from distance thus far in the series.
That seems to be a lot that has to change, but outside of changing the pace, which is difficult and takes discipline, all of the others are possible, because it was done in the playoffs.
This isn’t last year, and there is nothing to indicate the Cavaliers will be able to come back from a 3-1 deficit again this year. They have to win on Wednesday, or this series will be ending much quicker than anyone in northeast Ohio would like.
They have to take it game by game. Win game three, and you are back in the series. Forget about the rest of this series, do whatever needs to be done to win on Wednesday night at The Q.