Network Notebook: Cavs Need a Solution for Game 2
GOLDEN STATE PLAYING SO WELL THAT EVEN LEBRON MAY NOT BE ABLE TO STOP THEM!
As handicappers prepare for Sunday's second game of the 2017 NBA Finals, they'll have to deal with the stark possibility that nobody's going to get in the way of the Golden State Warriors...and the budding reality that Las Vegas just can't make pointspreads high enough to deal with the NBA's new superpower.
Golden State keeps winning easily. Are we to the point that they should be -15 in their home games vs. other elite NBA squads, and -10 on the road? This is a team that just beat fresh, rested, and PEAKING Cleveland by 22 points Thursday in Game 1, after winning their prior home game by 36 points over San Antonio (granting that Kawhi Leonard was out). Playing on the road doesn't faze this group at all. The Warriors won by 12 and 14 by the Alamo, after winning by 11 and 26 in Utah.
Yes, Cleveland did start poorly a year ago before rallying to win the championship. But, they were helped by Golden State injuries (and a suspension), and Kevin Durant wasn't wearing the gold and blue back then!
Let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats from Thursday's opener. Note how Golden State dominated defensively, even while Cleveland did win some of the other categories.
GOLDEN STATE 113, CLEVELAND 91
2-point shooting: Cleveland 35%, Golden State 45%
3-point shooting: Cleveland 11/31, Golden State 12/33
Free Throws: Cleveland 19/25, Golden State 11/16
Rebounds: Cleveland 59, Golden State 50
Turnovers: Cleveland 20, Golden State 4
Cleveland couldn't get much of anything inside...and kept turning the ball over whenever they tried to attack the basket. Everyone always forgets how great the Warriors are on defense! But, look at everything the Cavs did well. They won the free throw battle by eight makes and nine attempts. They won rebounding big. They weren't outclassed from behind the arc, which is a compliment against a team like Golden State. Yet, Golden State's virtual fortress in the paint prevented the Cavs from hanging close.
Scarier to think about if you're a Cavs fan...or just a casual fan hoping for a long, entertaining series...Golden State's shooting wasn't all that great. Klay Thompson still can't throw the ball in the ocean. They were effective, but not lights out from long range. Ball movement was stellar. Only committing four turnovers in an intense championship game is textbook basketball at its finest. If they can score 113 with a few drags on their percentage, what will they score if Thompson ever gets his form back? What's going to happen in the game they shoot 20 of 40 from long range instead of 12 of 33? Golden State beat Cleveland by 21 without bringing the best they have to offer.
Of course, handicappers aren't worried about entertainment value. We need to pick winners. Do-it-yourselfers must evaluate whether the posted pointspread in Game 2 captures the essence of what's most likely to happen.
Current Line: Golden State by 9, total of 222
You see an immediate response to what happened Thursday. Golden State rose from -7.5 to -9, and the total dropped from 225 to 222 since the opener only made it to 204 total points.
In favor of Cleveland (+) on Sunday:
*The classic zig-zag suggests more intensity from Cleveland, and maybe less from GS
*Cleveland can make adjustments designed to free up more and better long range looks
*Cleveland owned the boards...and that usually matters in the playoffs
*Golden State (particularly Steph Curry) has a history of getting complacent when overconfident
In favor of Golden State (-) on Sunday:
*The line may still not fully capture how good this Warriors team is
*Golden State's likely to shoot more accurately moving forward
*Golden State's defense is the difference-maker, and defenses don't slump
*Kevin Durant's too hungry for a championship to get complacent!
If the Warriors hadn't blown last year's series so badly, it would be easier to play the "letdown" card here. This is a team on a mission. Most importantly, a HEALTHY, deeply talented team on a mission. Last year's team would have won if not for a sequence of minor and major lineup disruptions This year's team hasn't had to deal with any postseason adversity. YET!
How should YOU play Sunday's side and total? Don't make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!
We'll build bankroll Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday afternoon in baseball so we'll have plenty to fire with Sunday night. You can always purchase game day selections right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure you ask about combination packages that include basketball and baseball. We'll also throw in the Belmont if you're a horse racing fan. Check on "Belmont Week" specials as we count down to the third leg of the Triple Crown.
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