With Kyrie gone, the Cavs eke out an inspiring OT win to even the NBA Finals.
No Kyrie, no problem.
That was the mantra of the Cleveland Cavaliers going into Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Counted out after the injury, Cleveland gave the Golden State Warriors all they could handle; only this time LeBron James and his boys were able to win yet another overtime thriller, 95-93.
The game was gritty, ugly, and testy but in the end, it was the Cavs who were able to dig deeper to carve themselves a tied 1-1 series—and more important, the Cavaliers' FIRST EVER Finals win. Can they win three more over the Dubs? They will have the homecourt advantage in the next two games, so that certainly helps.
Before the series shifts to Cleveland though, let's relive this morning's dogfight and see how the Cavs were able to steal one on the road in a fashion that garnered a huuuge roar from LeBron at the final buzzer.
LEBRON'S ALL-AROUND BRILLIANCE
What did 'Bron do to top his 44-point Game 1 explosion? Oh, nothing much. He simply dropped 39 points, corralled 16 boards, and dished out 11 dimes. Unlike the first game, not only did LBJ score, this time he did it all. And "ALL" is what he’s going to have to do for the rest of the series for Cleveland to pull off more wins versus this gets-hot-fast Warriors squad.
Nope, the King wasn’t perfect (his 11-35 FGM isn’t nice to look at and he missed another potential game-winner) but the Cavs win wouldn’t have been even remotely possible without the insane numbers he produced.
Mr. James was certainly pleased with the final outcome:
LeBron James roars as he leads the Cleveland Cavaliers to the franchise's first NBA Finals win EVER.Posted by Bleacher Report on Sunday, 7 June 2015
If there was a knock on LeBron, it would be his late-game performance that saw him miss shot after shot. Had the Cavs’ D not held up and the Dubs were able to complete the comeback, the Internet certainly would’ve been flooded with LeBron Choker memes. But LeBron won, so the haters lose this one today.
TOWERING TIMOFEY MOZGOV
For 29 minutes and 20 seconds, Mozgov was the second best player on the floor next to LeBron. Barring the use of a foul, he was virtually unstoppable on the inside. The monolithic Russian center finished with 17 points (5-8 FGM, 7-12 FTM) and 11 rebounds. He’s been a giant tinik sa lalamunan for Steve Kerr’s wards, especially the bigs, Andrew Bogut, Festuz Ezeli, and Draymond Green. It’s been hell keeping him out of the paint and it’ll be hell for Golden State if Mozgov continues to play like an elite NBA center in the subsequent games.
This isn't the Mozgov we know, and that's a good thing if you're with the Cavs!
Especially on the defensive end. Delly had nine points, one assist, five rebounds, and six turnovers. But his impact isn’t shown on his stat sheet—instead you can see it on Stephen Curry’s. The Australian reprised his patented “Irritant” role as he hounded Steph for most of the night. The outcome? A 5-23 shooting clip (2-15 from long distance) from the current MVP as he shot the ball like the Monstars stole his talent.
Today, Delly was a food critique who lambasted Chef Curry’s menu. And of course, it was also the Irritant who scored the game-winning free-throws (more on that later).
Video via NBA
KLAY THOMPSON TO THE RESCUE (ALMOST)
Klay showed up in Game 2 as he led the Dubs in scoring with 34 huge points. Those points were huge because every bucket Klay made was instrumental in keeping the Warriors within striking distance as his Splash bro tried shaking off his off-night.
In the second half, every good play the Cavs executed pointed to a Cleveland win, but the Dub’s All-Star shooting guard’s stellar 14-28 shooting kept the momentum from completely shifting towards the visiting team.
But no matter how anyone looks at it, the Warriors still lost. Thompson’s sharpshooting carried the load for the Dubs in Game 2, but obviously it wasn’t enough. He better wake his backcourt partner up, quick!
Video via GD's Final Highlights
DRAYMOND GREEN, STICKING WITH IT!
Amidst Curry’s atrocious shooting display, another player who shined for the Dubs was their ever-intense power forward, Draymond Green.
When the game seemed to be slipping away from Golden State during regulation, Draymond stuck with playing hard, allowing him to make important defensive stops and get crucial rebounds and put-backs. The former Michigan State standout’s relentlessness pushed him to tally 10 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and five steals. The Cavs are a determined crew that doesn’t quit. The Warriors badly need to adapt Green's doggedness if they want to get past their rivals.
And oh, he served up a crucial block on LeBron, too:
Video via NBAClip
We gave Chef Curry a "four spoons out of five" review the other day.
Now, we’re going to have to give him a 1.5—and we’re being generous. Five-out-of-23 shooting, 2-15 from beyond the arc? We haven’t seen Steph play worse. Props to the Cavs coaching staff for coming up with the defensive adjustments that made such a great player look so bad.
Curry also committed six turnovers, two of which had game-costing consequences. In the postgame, the newly-crowned MVP looked irked as reporters asked him about how Dellavedova shut him down, so we're excited to see how this artisanal outside shooter can start cooking again.
This game was a forgettable one for Curry but if he had one shining moment, it was the sexy finger roll he nailed to send the game to overtime:
THE GUY WHO'S HAPPIEST ABOUT THE WIN
We're talking about JR Smith. Cleveland's streak shooter finished with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting, good for the third-best scoring output in the game. While 13 points is an okay contribution, his team simply needs more of him. And if he isn't going to score, he needs to avoid committing stupid fouls.
In the final quarter, he fouled a dunking Harrison Barnes for an and-one. Later, he fouled Curry after a free throw miss by Cleveland, resulting in free throws for the league's best FT shooter on the other end. In OT, he got baited into a foul by Curry again. As former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy said during the broadcast, "Dumb loses games."
Had Cleveland not won, a significant portion of the blame would've come Smith's way. He was lucky they got out of town with the W.
THE SHAQTIN' A FOOL CANDIDATES:
1) LeBron’s jump-ball boo-boo
In a crucial jump ball versus Green, which the more athletic LeBron was supposed to win, the latter committed an amateurish mistake. With the help of a "little" shoulder and jersey pull by Green, LeBron got frustrated and caught the ball right after the referee’s toss—an automatic turnover.
2) Stephen Curry’s sixth turnover
With 4.4 seconds left and down two in overtime, Steph was expected to take the ball to their end of the floor where he could take and make a game-winning three-ball. Instead he forced a pass to Klay that turned into his sixth (and probably stingiest) turnover.
3) Maresse Speights' missed dunk
Maresse Speights was all alone when he tried to beat the third quarter buzzer with a two-handed slam that rattled in and out. It could have given the Warriors a huge momentum swing that could've pushed them over the hump. "Haaaaaay, Speights," cried Golden State fans everywhere.
Video via NbaHighlightsHD
The Dubs and the Cavs just gave us two overtimes in the first two Finals games—the first time it has ever happened in NBA history. Can they make it three in a row? We like the sound of it. We’ll see you again on Wednesday (Manila time) for Game 3, fellow hoop freaks!
In celebration of Stan Smith Day
Nick Oyzon is in the house!
Paging the local government