The NBA Finals are tied as the series heads to Cleveland. Many people counted the Cavaliers out after Kyrie Irving was lost for the series. If the Cavs want to win the NBA Championship the “Others” have to step up at home.
LeBron James is doing all he can to carry this team. They made Game 2 ugly and got the win. Timofey Mozgov was great in the time he played and Matthew Dellavedova knocked down some clutch free throws. Cleveland still needs more from the supporting cast. They only shot 32% from the field in Game 2 and I doubt Steph Curry misses 13 three pointers in a game again.
The supporting cast is supposed to play better at home. Iman Shumpert has played great defense and the one three pointer that he hit was the Cavs only made basket in overtime. In two games he has scored a combined 13 points on 4-17 shooting but leads the team with seven steals.
Tristan Thompson is doing an amazing job on the boards. His energy is drawing fouls and keeping possessions alive for the Cavs. In two games he has 29 rebounds which are the most of any player in the series and 13 of those are offensive rebounds. Thompson has struggled offensively in a sense; he has only scored four points on 1-9 shooting in the series. He hasn’t been able to get free to catch any lobs and most of his offensive rebounds come away from the basket.
There are two key players for the Cavs heading into Game 3 at home, J.R. Smith and Mike Miller. The Cavs are so banged up they had Kyrie Irving active in Game 2 so they need help from everyone who steps on the court.
Mike Miller played six minutes in Game 2 and got up one shot. This is similar to what James Jones did in Game 1 although Jones played more minutes. With only one day of rest Cleveland will need Miller to play a few more minutes. Maybe he gets 10-12 minutes on the floor this time around. He needs to get a few more open looks like James Jones did in Game 2. Jones took seven shots and knocked down two three pointers. We remember Miller when he hit those seven three pointers in the close out game against the Thunder in the Finals. But do you know he didn’t hit a three pointer in that series before that game? Did you know he only played 20 minutes in the Finals until Game 5 when he played 23 minutes? I’m not saying he will hit seven three pointers but I am saying he is a shooter and all he needs is a couple of open looks.
J.R. Smith almost blew the game for the Cavs. He picked up some dumb fouls late in the game and eventually fouled out. Before leaving he managed to score 13 points on 5-13 shooting and a couple of three pointers. In two games Smith is 5-15 from beyond the arc which is tied for the team lead. Cleveland has actually matched Golden State in two games with 18 made three pointers.
Smith is an interesting player; he prefers defended shots to open shots. In the series against the Hawks he was 1-6 on wide open three pointers. The term Wide Open is when a defender is 6+ feet away. When Smith was guarded “Tight” (2-4 feet) he shot 5-15 from three which is his totals for the Finals. J.R. was his best when he was just “Open” (4-6 feet) he shot 9-11 from three point land.
In the Finals Smith is doing a great job hitting Wide Open shots, he is 3-4. He is a combined 2-11 on tight and open shots. His shots won’t be wide open in Game 3 because the Warriors will be locked in on the defensive end. Smith has to hit some of those shots that make you shake your head.
LeBron James will get his numbers, Tristan and Moz will bang on the boards but the Cavs need some extra fire power from the “others” if they want to win Game 3.