Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Cleveland Cavaliers prepare for Game 3 of the NBA Finals, which is June 8....Cleveland fans look forward to a possible victory in Game 3 against the Warriors.... By Cleveland Urban News.Com Sportswriter Karl Kimbrough

Stephen Curry (left) and LeBron James
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By Karl Kimbrough, Cleveland Urban News.Com sportswriter (kimbrough@clevelandurbannews.com). 

Cleveland Urban News.Com
Sportswriter Karl Kimbrough

CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM-CLEVELAND, Ohio- After a 15 point loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors it was the Cavaliers goal to play faster in Game 2. That's faster on offense by pushing the ball up the floor more quickly, and faster by exhibiting more effective ball movement in their half court sets. Also crucial was moving more quickly on defense to keep up with the screens and the back cuts of the Warriors.

But none of these things materialized as Cleveland ceremoniously lost Game 2 , the Warriors trouncing them 110-77, an away game like Game 1 that was also void of the widespread enthusiasm from fans that a home court advantage often brings.

Game 3 is Wednesday night at in Cleveland, and fans are optimistic of a win on their home turf.

Cleveland is now the underdog in a rematch of a championship series, the Warriors denying the Cavs the coveted title last year, a 4-2 2015 NBA Finals defeat. 

"I am pulling for LeBron James, coach Lue and the whole team," said Clevelander Joan Davis after the Cavs fail to the Warriors in Game 2.

Despite optimism by Davis and others, Cleveland must learn from its successes and its failures, if it wants to walk away with the championship title this year.

Let's analyze Game 2, notwithstanding the heartbreaking loss to the Warriors, who, this year,  broke a post playoffs record for winning the most games in an NBA season, the Warriors ending the season as the No 1 seed of the Western Conference, paralleled by Cleveland as the No 1 seed of the Easter Conference.

LeBron James led the Cavs in scoring in  Game 2, posting 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. 

But James and  the Cavs as a whole seemed rattled by Golden State's defense.

"I got myself in a lot of trouble tonight personally, turned the ball over way too much," said James of his team's  Game 2 catastrophe.

The Warriors demonstrated the ability to close out and defend Cleveland's three point shooters and were able to wall off drives to the basket.

Warriors' center Andrew Bogut took command of the defensive interior early on by effectively blocking four Cavalier shots in the first quarter alone.

After the Cavs took a six point early second quarter lead, 28-22, the Warriors found open areas throughout the Cleveland defense and went on a 20-two run, which gave them a 42 to 30 lead.

That run was spearheaded by Warriors' forward Draymond Green, who made three three pointers, and led his team in scoring with 28 points. 

Stephen Curry added 18 points, seven of them in the second quarter.

The Warriors Klay Thompson hit key three pointers as well, making 50 percent of his eight threes in the game. He had 17 points.

Shooting percentages told a big part of the story in this game. 

Cleveland was 28 of 79 for 35 percent from the field and Golden State was 44 -of -81 for 54 percent from the field. 

On three pointers, the Warriors were 15 of 33, while the Cavs could only connect on five of 13 for 22 percent. 

After the Cavaliers somewhat good defensive stance in the first quarter they subsequently went back to having poor defensive rotations, obviously not recognizing when to switch defensively, and not knowing which switches were necessary to be effective.

Giving up open jump shots or back door cuts that resulted in easy Warrior baskets also contributed to the Game 2 loss.

Offensively, the Cavs have allowed the Warriors to dictate what they will be allowed to do in both games to date. As a result, the ball is not moving quickly and players are not moving to open areas, activity that has caused a lot of frustration on both ends of the floor. 

Hopefully, and for the benefit of  the Cleveland players and their fans, there will be a rise in the level of intensity and better movement on the court for all four quarters in Game 3 Wednesday night.