Oakland, CA – This might be some of the best basketball we’ve seen in a long time. Two overtime thrillers in the first two games is a clear indication that this year’s NBA Finals could easily go seven games. The short-handed Cavaliers stunned fans at Oracle Arena when they bested the Warriors 95-93 in OT.
Lebron James did what he does best, took his team on his back and led them to a hard fought victory. James finished with a triple double, 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. Without point guard Kyrie Irving, Cleveland didn’t miss a beat keeping up with Golden State’s fast-paced game.
“I tried to give it all to my teammates. And they did a great job of giving it back to me. A total team effort,” said James. “To be back in the same position we were three days ago and to come back and even the series is big time.”
Stephen Curry tied the game in the final minutes of regulation forcing overtime with an easy layup. Curry was able to break free from the Cavs defense but went cold most of the night from the arc where he’s usually unstoppable. Curry ended his scoring drought with a 3-pointer late in the fourth, then drove through the lane untouched and finished with a finger roll with 7.2 seconds left on the clock.
“Shots I normally make, I knew as soon as they left my hand that they were off,” Curry said. “That doesn’t usually happen. Mechanically, I don’t know if there is an explanation for it, just didn’t have a rhythm and didn’t find one the whole game.”
Despite Curry’s shooting woes, Klay Thompson finally had his best game of the playoffs. He finished with 34 points while the Warriors went 8-for-35 from the field. Thompson matched James shot for shot most of the game while Golden State struggled offensively. But losing one game isn’t the end of the world.
“Look, this is the Finals,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “I mean, it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard.”
The first three rounds in the playoffs were rather easy for Golden State. They swept the Pelicans, got past the Grizzlies 4-2 and shut down the Rockets allowing them only one win in the series. So facing the NBA’s best Eastern team is not going to be easy. James is the league’s best player and will make you work to defeat him. Losing Irving in the first game to a fractured knee was tough but didn’t stop the team from tying the series.
Cleveland outrebounded the Warriors who still haven’t had their best game offensively yet. Curry had his worst shooting night going 8-of-35 from 3-point range. Shots that used to be so easy are now contested at almost every spot on the floor. The Cavs defense has disrupted the flow of Golden State’s ball movement. The Warriors must find a way to play their game, which is usually running over their opponents with an array of scoring weapons.
“I just let the offense come to me and tried to play as aggressive as I can,” Thompson said. “But in the end, 34 points is meaningless.”