This might be a pretty simple explanation – the Golden State Warriors simply have to continue doing what they’re doing in order to go up 2-0 in the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Actually, that comment doesn’t quite work all the way, because you know that Cleveland is going to make some adjustments on their end to make things more difficult for the Dubs in one way or the other. When you look at the box score closely, as well as the analytical statistics, you’ll notice that there are number of ways in which the Warriors can improve their performance, and perhaps that’s a bit scary. But it goes into explaining how they could actually do better in this Sunday night matchup, which begins at 8 PM ET at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.
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First of all, Steve Kerr has been rumored to be a real possibility on the bench for the Warriors in this game. We’re not sure whether this would have a big effect, but it might add a bit of an emotional boost. Kerr has not been missing, mind you, as he has been involved in all the strategy meetings. But the atmosphere might be a little more electric if he was able to return.
As far as the game plan is concerned, we don’t know any reason why Golden State would do anything differently against the Cavaliers and Game 2, at least to begin with, until Cleveland demonstrates that it can defend on the interior. It was almost as if the Warriors had a free pass to enter the free-throw lane, as they scored 56 points in the paint in Game 1, including 12 dunks, and it’s becoming evident that Kevin Durant is going to be virtually impossible for anyone on the Cleveland roster to match up with. He is close to seven feet tall, and he plays an outside game, in addition to one that can enable him to drive the hoop against just about anybody. If the Warriors continue to pressure the basket, it’s going to force the Cavaliers to get more physical, and Tristan Thompson might wind up in foul trouble. This would be a real danger sign to the Cleveland cause, since they really don’t have anyone behind Thompson who supplies a lot of defensive bulk.
In the NBA finals lines posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Golden State is a substantial favorites:
Golden State Warriors -8.5
Cleveland Cavaliers +8.5
Over 221 points -110
Under 221 points -110
The Warriors have to keep taking care of the basketball. We understand that four turnovers is absurdly low for any individual game, but if they could keep that figure to 10 or lower for Game 2, they’ll maintain a big edge. And the Warriors, who allowed 15 offensive rebounds on the part of the Cavaliers, would probably have to do a better job underneath. Remember, Golden State was 29th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage, so that is a potential weakness.
Another one of these things they have to do is pretty academic – they have to hit their uncontested outside shots. And you know what? You can add inside shots to that as well, as they were below-average when it came to close-range shooting. But this team got 26 uncontested opportunities from beyond the three-point line, and made only nine of them. They should be good for a better percentage this time around. And do you think Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are going to shoot 6-28 combined again? Don’t think so. Just keep shooting, guys.
Whoever is on the bench – Kerr or Mike Brown, who has been fired not once, but TWICE, by the Cavaliers, Golden State could find some success playing around with their lineups. The so-called “Death Lineup,” which has Andre Iguodala subbing in for Zaza Pachulia, outscored the opposition by 23.9 points per 100 possessions this season, making them the most efficient quintet in the league. This combination might also have the effect of taking Kevin Love off the floor. Love, as you probably know, can be a deadly three-point shooter, defensive rebounder and outlet passer. But he can’t guard anyone in the Death Lineup, at least with any effectiveness, and so Golden State as the natural advantage of being able to take a big of his game away from the overall Cleveland output.
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