The Cleveland Cavaliers are down 0-2 in the Finals after being blown out in back to back games at Oracle Arena. The defending champions have a chance to regroup and win game 3 on their home court in Cleveland, however, achieving that will require a few adjustments from the Cavaliers.
The Warriors are seemingly an insurmountable force on offense, but their defense can be exploited in certain areas as well as in the paint. The first half of game 2 was close as LeBron James was attacking the rim with reckless abandon, no defenders on the Golden State crew could handle what James was dishing out.
Here we look at four factors that would give Cleveland the edge:
KYRIE IRVING MUST SHINE
Irving struggled in the first two games in Oakland despite averaging 21.5 points per game. His defense was limited and could not slow down Steph Curry at crucial junctures throughout the game. Kyrie will have to score over 30 points and start setting up his teammates on the offensive end.
Irving only combined for 9 assists in two games, until Kyrie creates some offense and starts making defensive plays against Curry, the Cavaliers will continue to struggle at home. The All-Star point guard might have to explode for 40-points as he did in last year’s Finals, which will give LeBron some relief on the offensive side.
CAVS MUST WIN THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS
Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love must win this battle. Offensive rebounds are also imperative to the team’s success on offense as it will keep plays alive, making it difficult for Draymond Green and Kevin Durant to push the ball up the court.
Golden State is winning the total rebounding match 103-100, the Cavaliers will need to dominate the boards going forward in order to limit the Warriors scoring spurts in transition. The Warriors are virtually unstoppable in transition, Cleveland’s best strategy would be to win the rebound battle and force Golden State to run half court plays in a set offense.
SUPPORTING CAST MUST HELP OUT
J.R Smith has scored a total of three points in two games while Kyle Korver has put up 8 points. The two sharpshooters have been non-existent and will have to produce in game 3 to equal what Klay Thompson and Green are producing on the offensive side.
The Cavaliers bench will have to step up their game as well, Deron Williams has offered no relief at the point guard position for Irving. Role players usually perform better at home and feed off their crowd for energy, that might improve their performances in games 3 and 4.
THE 40 POINT CLUB
The king of Akron is performing at a high level and is averaging a triple-double with 28.5 PPG, 13.0 RPG and 11.0 APG. Despite his great performances in both games, the Cavaliers were still outmatched and blown out by an average of 20-points.
In order to beat these Warriors, James must score more and enter the realm of 40 or more points. As we witnessed in last year’s Finals, LeBron went on a tear in back to back 40-point performances that led his team to victory. James will need a few ‘Jordanesque’ scoring games to match Golden State’s high-powered offense.
LeBron must take the reigns and score at will as he did in the first half of game 2 and continue that for four quarters. The team will also have to take care of the basketball and limit turnovers throughout for Cleveland to tie up the series.
Game 3 will commence tonight; 9:00 PM at the Quicken Loans Arena.