Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Theoretically Cleveland’s strategy was sound: make anyone else but Steph Curry and Klay Thompson score. Kyrie Irving played great defense against Steph, LeBron drew early fouls from Klay. The Cavs let ‘everyone else’ beat them except for Golden State’s two record-breaking superstars. The problem is they did. The Warriors’ ended Game 1 of the NBA Finals with 7 players in double figures defeating the Cavs 104-89 (June 3, 2016-Mla Time).
The win embodies the Strength in Numbers banner at the Oracle Arena and on the t-shirts. Courtside seats have been sold as high as $29,000 especially since the exciting game 7 against OKC.
John Legend sings National Anthem for NBA Finals Game 1
Leading the way for the Warriors is a season high for Shaun Livingston at 20 pts. He took advantage of his 6’7” height and made mid range jumpers over 6’1” Kyrie Irving. Livingston has played for a total of 9 NBA squads and could still recall when 20 win teams would cut him from their line-up.
Coach Steve Kerr has the unusual strategy of using as many players on his roster as he possibly can. Ball movement, extra passing is something that every player does. If you know that everyone will get to play and everyone passes the ball, everyone is motivated to share. Assists totals bear this out with 29-17.
Another factor for bench production was Klay Thompson’s early foul trouble. LeBron was able to draw a 3rd foul on Klay as early as 2Q, which limited his playing time. Livingston and Leandro Barbosa had started scoring from the first quarter.
The team defense of the Warriors was stifling early on forcing two 24-second violations in the 1Q. Andre Iguodala even had back-to-back steals on Kyrie Irving, which resulted in fast break points.
The Warriors lead until an 11-0 run by the Cavs in the 3Q. Coach Steve Kerr was so angered he karate chopped a clipboard and split in two. Fans were shocked, as Kerr is usually unemotional during the games. Later on he said, “Destruction tends to ease some of the anger. So I try to take it out on a clipboard instead of a player. So it’s better that way.”
GSW Bench Game 1 High lights
The game had back and forth lead changes but the Warriors maintained the lead 76-68 going into the 4Q. Then came the burst of scoring from Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Andre Iguodala. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson each had a three pointer to keep the lead permanently. But was an otherwise forgettable scoring night for the Splash brothers for a combined 20 points. Barbosa had 11 points while Iguodala had 12 pts 7 rebs and 6 assists. Andre’s defense was key on both LeBron and Kyrie the same way his defended both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in the previous series.
Cavs Possible Solution
If the Warriors could beat the Cavs without Steph and Klay’s normal shooting, what else could they do?The Cavs may take comfort in the fact they contained Steph and Klay. The problem now is finding out they still have to stop 4 or more ‘other’ scorers.
LeBron was one assist away from a triple double: 23pts, 12 reb and 9 assts. LBJ is a natural passer and someone who WANTS to get his teammates involved. Kyrie Irving was the CAVS leading scorer with 26 points. Kevin Love had 17 points and 13 boards.
What they need to do is actually involve their bench even more. They have the personnel to do this. Channing Fye was added to their line up to shoot more treys. And yet only managed 2pts in his paltry 7 minutes.
Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith are proven scorers both in the 3point area and drives to the basket. Matthew Dellavedova is also a consistent shooter. LeBron isn’t the only 6-straight finals guy: James Jones is there. Timofey Mozgov played well in last year’s finals but hardly got playing time in this year’s playoffs. In game 1 Mozgov, Dahntay Jones, James Jones and Mo Williams only got to play during garbage time in the last 2 minutes.
Via J.E. Skeets from THE STARTERS, the Cavs could also use veteran Richard Jefferson to antagonize Draymond Green. Just one flagrant foul or 2 technicals would merit a suspension for green who ‘accidentally’ kicked Steven Adams in the groin.
IF the Cavs wanted to they could use all these players more both on the defensive and offensive end. The main difference is that the Warriors have been doing this all season long. Their starters are used to playing with their 2nd and 3rd units, vice versa. But the Cavs certainly have the personnel; they just need to give them minutes. If they don’t they’ll be overwhelmed by strength in numbers.
Tanduay Rhum is a sponsor of the NBA Finals airing in ABS CBN SPORTS+ACTION
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