Welcome to The Truda Report everybody. I apologize for not getting my NBA Finals Game 2 prediction out, but today I'm here to react to and analyze what happened in the first two games. Make sure to follow my Instagram @thetrudareport for updates on when I post more articles.
Games 1 and 2 Reaction and Notes:
We all knew how much of an impact Kevin Durant could have in these Finals, but seeing it happen was something different. Possibly the only people in the world happy about KD joining the Warriors were packed into Oracle Arena, and the amount of noise they made every time he scored the basketball was incredible. Despite the game being a 113-91 blowout, it was exciting to watch the greatness of this Durant led Warriors team. Durant was easily the best player on the floor during Game 1, scoring at will from either the paint or behind the arc. I found that the only time the Cavs had any chance of stopping him is when he was in the post against Kevin Love. Otherwise, KD proved a mismatch against everyone. LeBron James of 4 years ago may have had the speed and athleticism to keep up, but he definitely doesn't now.
I found that part of the Cavs issue in stopping Durant (during Game 1) came from their defense against Klay Thompson. Obviously, he is not a guy you want taking open threes, but every time Golden State had a fast break, the defenders would run to stop the three, not the ball handler. That meant consistent buckets for Durant in the paint. After seeing that Klay was once again off shooting the ball, I feel the Cavs should have paid less attention to him and more to stopping Durant. Cleveland did try some of this in Game 2, but they routinely made poor fouls and failed to cease Golden States scoring. Also, Klay showed up on the scoring end in Game 2, which made the Cavaliers new strategy useless.
By the way, Steph Curry is not receiving as much credit as he should be. In the second half of Game 1 Curry went off from the three point line helping ice the game for the Warriors. Also, his ability to finish at the rim has been a huge issue for the Cavs because just like on the fast breaks, when they close out on the three too quickly it opens up a lane for Curry to drive. To be fair, Curry had 8 turn overs in Game 2 so he hasn't been perfect, but I feel like he has been overlooked lately.
Something I noted about the Cavs is that Kyrie Irving and LeBron James look like they are playing in the NBA of five years ago. The team they are facing, the Warriors, have proven to everyone that a pace and space offense with effective shooting wins games, and yet both Irving and James continuously played ISO basketball. I understand that that is what they do best, and it's fine if that's what they want to, but they need to be consistent with it. I keep seeing the Cavs push the ball down the court and jack up threes (which plays right into the Warriors hand), but then sometimes they slow the pace and play ISO basketball. I think they need to choose one or the other, and stick to that game plan. A team without an identity is not going to be able to beat the Warriors.
Lastly, I'd like to bring up something that Colin Cowherd brought up today on his show (The Herd with Colin Cowherd on FS1). He said that when watching these games, LeBron James, who is putting up incredible numbers, is disappearing on the court. What he means is that the Warriors are drawing you in, making the big plays, being the exciting people to follow, and for the first time LeBron isn't. I think this ties into what I was saying earlier about Kevin Durant's proficiency these last two games. Instead of LeBron playing the hero, it has been Durant. Multiple times Durant has hit a big three, made a rim shaking dunk, or an emphatic block. LeBron, on the other hand, has been playing great basketball but due to his teams lack of success he has turned into a Gordon Hayward - consistently good, but not flashy enough to draw your attention.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.