If you knew beforehand that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would combine for just 20 points on 8-of-27 shooting, you’d think that the Golden State Warriors’ would be in severe trouble. But the Warriors’ bench stepped up big in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, helping deliver Golden State a 104-89 win.
Shaun Livingston came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Several other unheralded Warriors came up big on a night when the Splash Brothers were off.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, are searching for answers after losing just their third game of the postseason. The Cavs were a dismal 38% from the field and looked nothing like the team that rolled through the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 10-2 record.
Can the Cavaliers bounce back and even up the series? Or will Golden State keep rolling and win their second-straight title? You can find out as we cover Game 2 between the Cavs and Warriors.
GTBets.eu line for Game 2 (June 5 at 8:00pm EST)
Cleveland +6.5 (-110)
Golden State -6.5 (-110)
Why the Cavs will cover the Spread
In our preview of the 2016 NBA Finals, we thought that Golden State would come away with a relatively easy Game 1 victory, given how Curry stressed not losing the first contest like they did to the Thunder. With the first game down, we think that Cleveland has a much better chance to compete on Sunday.
They have a lot of room to improve too after giving up several layups and uncontested dunks to Golden State’s role players. Few NBA teams look as unprepared on interior defense as the Cavs did, so expect better paint D from Cleveland rolling into Game 2.
Cleveland saw what they did to the Thunder in the last two games of that series. So they used a combination of Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, LeBron James and Matthew Dellavedova switching on screens to lock these two down. Sometimes this isn’t even enough, but it was last night since Curry scored just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting while Thompson scored 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
Back to the negatives, Cleveland’s offense needs to be markedly better in Game 2. They looked like a sluggish half-court team, rather than the free-flowing squad that ripped through the Eastern Conference. Expect coach Ty Lue to make the necessary adjustments to get Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Smith in better position to score this time around.
LeBron James, on the other hand, doesn’t need to worry about adjustments or a different game plan. He scored 23 points on 9-of-21 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing 9 assists. James has picked up where he did in last year’s Finals, and his improved supporting cast should show up to help deliver a Game 2 win.
Why the Warriors will cover the Spread
Golden State had a lot of unlikely heroes in their victory last night. We mentioned Livingston, now here are the other Warriors who came through:
– Harrison Barnes: 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting
– Draymond Green: 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds, 7 assists
– Andrew Bogut: 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting
– Andrew Igoudala: 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
– Leandro Barbosa: 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting
Granted, these guys got a lot of open looks, but they did a great job of hitting shots with Curry and Thompson receiving so much attention. Given how these guys played, it should relieve some pressure for the Splash Brothers to get open a little more.
Beyond the supporting cast’s shooting, this was a great team defensive effort. The Warriors forced Cleveland into 15 turnovers and gave the Cavs few open looks during last night’s game.
If the Warriors’ supporting cast can play even half as good as they did in the first game, combined with this same defensive effort and better shooting from Curry/Thompson, Golden State will go up 2-0 before the series heads back to Cleveland.
Prediction for Cavs vs Warriors Game 2
With the Warriors again playing at home and currently on a 4-game win streak, there’s little reason to doubt that they can win again. And it doesn’t look like Cleveland is close to solving them because, dating back to last year’s Finals, they’ve now lost six straight games against Golden State. But then again, this isn’t the same Cleveland team that got beat up 132-98 on their home floor in January. LeBron and the Cavs have the urgency to know that going down 2-0 in this series would be devastating. Expect them to fix their problems from Game 1 and come away with a close win.
Final Score: Cleveland 105 – Golden State 102
Betting Prediction: Bet on Cleveland to cover their +6.5 spread