Some people turn on a live stream to see the entire game, while others watch online only to see the big plays made by the stars. Heading into Game 2 of the NBA Finals, who on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are going to make those plays and make the biggest difference in the game?
The Players of Cavs vs. Warriors Game 2
A basketball game is a team effort, something that both the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are aware of heading into Warriors vs. Cavs Game 2; after all, the top members of the Golden State Warriors roster had an off night, meaning the rest of the team had to deliver to give them the Game 1 victory. Why ask your Google search bar “Who will win NBA finals?” when you should be typing “Who will win NBA finals for their team?” This year’s championship match, like last year’s—it’s the same teams playing, after all—features many of the NBA’s best and brightest top players. With both the Cleveland Cavaliers roster and Golden State Warriors locker room are stacked, including multi-time champions and the league MVP, who will have the most influence on how this series goes? For that matter, going by how Game 1 went, will they have any impact at all? Here are six players to make note of going into Game 2.
Well, duh. Stephen Curry’s stats have led to him being elected MVP for a second straight year—this year being the first ever where the award was decided with a unanimous vote—and he can take a large portion of the credit for the Warriors winning the championship last season. While he didn’t have a very strong Game 1, at one point even tossing his mouth guard to the floor in disgust at his own play, he’s still going to be public enemy number one for the Cavaliers and the guy that fans are paying to see.
Last year, the man who led the Miami Heat to four straight NBA Finals did the same for the Cavaliers, but unfortunately came up short. Some would look at LeBron James’ stats and say his best days as a pro player are now behind him, and Game 1 did nothing to prove otherwise; the 23 points, nine assists, and 12 rebounds may seem good, but in the 2015 Finals he was scoring closer to 30–40. Nevertheless, he is still an incredibly talented player and will continue to be a deciding factor in Cleveland’s success this series.
While Stephen Curry was definitely a pillar that helped hold up the Warriors as they came back to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, Klay Thompson’s stats show he was just as pivotal, also heavily contributing to Golden State’s scoring. The other half of the “Splash Brothers” also had a slump similar to Curry’s in Game 1: the pair only scoring a combined 20 points. Should the two have a better Game 2, however, combined with the rest of the team’s proven ability to pick up any slack, then Cleveland could be looking at a rough time on defense.
The Golden State Warriors apparently don’t think much of Kyrie Irving’s stats as Game 1 saw the Warriors score a large number of their points via passing the ball to whichever player Irving was defending at the time, then watching that guy score. Now, Irving is no slouch, being the 2011/2012 NBA Rookie of the Year and the MVP of the 2014 All-Star Game, and has had a strong year despite missing the beginning due to a knee injury. However, a strong scoring season, including a season high of 35 points in a single game, while definitely an asset to the Cavs on offense, may not make up for being the weak link when the team is on defense.
The Warriors’ small forward/shooting guard may be LeBron James’ kryptonite, as Iguadola stayed locked on to the Cavaliers’ star player whenever Cleveland had the ball. Even when James did get to do something with the ball—always a dangerous situation for the opposing team—the player was there to try to stop him. It will be worth watching him in Game 2 to see if he sticks with this game plan or tries to shut down an easier, but potentially still threatening, target.
Much like teammate Kyrie Irvine, Kevin Love didn’t have a very successful time on defense on Thursday night—or the rest of the season, for that matter, having given up 90.3 points for every 100 chances over the course of the regular season and even worse during the playoffs. So, why should you keep an eye on him? Because Kevin Love on offense is an entirely different person from his defensive self—and his team is expecting a lot from him in this, his first ever finals.