NBA Finals Game 2 Preview
ARE THE NBA FINALS ALREADY OVER?! CLEVELAND IN DEEP TROUBLE AFTER GAME ONE HEARTBREAKER
In just a matter of seconds, we went from having the potential of a classic all-time NBA Championship series to witnessing the likely metaphorical end of the Cleveland Cavaliers season.
*They couldn't steal Game One despite leading much of the night...and they absolutely HAD to take a game in Golden State to have a realistic shot of winning the series. (They weren't going to win four of the last five games with the less dynamic and less healthy roster!)
*They saw Kyrie Irving limp to the locker room midway through overtime after the young point guard either re-aggravated an old injury or suffered a new one. The long pre-series layoff had helped him at least become productive in a "run straight forward" and "hit a long set shot" manner. Now he may be finished for the series.
*They realized that LeBron James can't carry this team on his shoulders by himself for an entire game. He ALMOST pulled it off. But, he started to lose his wheels in the final moments...and then had nothing in the tank left for overtime. James in a Superman cape is enough to compete with the Warriors. Doesn't look like it's enough to beat them.
Golden State entered Game One as a series favorite of around -240 depending on the store. They're now way up to about -500 with their 1-0 advantage over an opponent who's rotation circumstances just worsened.
Here's a quick look at the key stats from the Championship opener. It was a FANTASTIC game until overtime slammed the door on Cleveland's title hopes.
GAME ONE STATS
Golden State 108, Cleveland 100 (in overtime)
Regulation Score: Cleveland 98, Golden State 98
Shooting Pct: Cleveland 42%, Golden State 44%
Three-Pointers: Cleveland 9/31, Golden State 10/27
Free Throws: Cleveland 13/19, Golden State 20/22
Rebounds: Cleveland 45, Golden State 48
Turnovers: Cleveland 11, Golden State 12
Vegas Line: Golden State by 6, total of 204
Cleveland missed 12 straight shots late in proceedings....so their percentages and overall numbers were better most of the night than the boxscore makes it seem. That's why it was such a great game! LeBron James just kept grinding his way to buckets, while Golden State got panicky too often on offense while launching poorly advised treys. This felt very much like the game Houston almost stole in Oracle in the last series (which finished 99-98 coincidentally). The visitor couldn't break through...which means the writing is basically on the wall.
Sunday's Vegas Line: Golden State by 7.5, total of 202
The market has lifted the line to Warriors -7.5 on the assumption that Irving will either miss the game or be so badly hobbled that he won't be able to contribute. There's also an assumption that Golden State is going to shoot better! Series nerves should be gone for the young Warriors. And, they should be confident about at least containing LeBron James. They took his best shot and scored the late knockout anyway. If LeBron can't play at that level two games in a row...we could see a Game Two blowout before Cleveland tries to regroup in front of its home fans Tuesday night.
JIM HURLEY knows that Cleveland's mindset is the key to handicapping this game. If the Cavs are down in the dumps, the Warriors could have the full game pointspread covered six minutes into the first quarter on the way to another one of their patented blowouts. But...if Cleveland's role players realize they need to bring everything NOW...we just might have another thriller.
Our on-site sources will report...then YOU'LL get a BIG, JUICY WINNER!
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This Game Two preview will stay up all weekend in the NOTEBOOK. We return for a mix of baseball and basketball on Monday. Here's what's on tap this week...
Monday: MLB Series Preview: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Tuesday: NBA Game Three Championship Preview
Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview...Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers
Thursday: NBA Game Four Championship Preview
Friday: MLB Interleague Series Preview...Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals
Saturday: NBA Early Look for Sunday's Game Five of Cavaliers/Warriors if necessary. Otherwise a baseball preview or MLB handicapping notes.
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