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Do Cavaliers Stand a Chance in Game 2?
Can the Warriors dominate again?
Well, Game 1 of the NBA Finals certainly didn't go as planned.
Or did it?
The Golden State Warriors throttled the Cleveland Cavaliers in the championship round's opening tilt, winning 113-91. Though the game was close throughout the first half and into the third quarter, the Warriors used a 13-0 run out of the locker room to pull away for good. Even before then, when the score was tight, it felt like they were in absolute control.
It didn't matter that no one aside from Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry scored in double figures. It didn't matter that Klay Thompson's shooting struggles continued; he finished 3-of-16 from floor. It didn't matter that the Cavaliers dared Draymond Green to shoot, and he did, and he missed, to the tune of a 3-of-12 showing from the floor.
Curry and Durant combined for 66 points, and that was enough. The Cavaliers defense broke down. Durant was allowed to waltz his way toward the rim at every turn, and no one crowded Curry in an attempt to deter his pull-up threes, which he dropped in barrages during the third quarter.
There is reason to believe the Cavaliers will be better in Game 2. LeBron James isn't going to have eight turnovers—or seven in the first half alone—on Sunday night. Kevin Love won't go ice cold. Tristan Thompson cannot play any worse than he did. Cleveland will shoot better than 36.8 percent (14-of-38) on wide-open shots.
Sportsbooks are recognizing this, which is why the line has only gone from +7 to +9 since Game 1. But that doesn't mean they're a good bet. We got burned rolling with them to start the series. We made the mistake of thinking they would come out with more energy, and that they would be the team making smarter decisions off all that rest.
Instead, they committed 20 turnovers and were outscored 27 to 9 in transition. And get this: The Warriors didn't even play their best basketball.
That's where we have a problem picking the Cavaliers. Both Green and Thompson are going to contribute more on the offensive end, and when they do, how are the Cavaliers going to react?
Head coach Tyronn Lue can start by changing his rotation a bit. Too many minutes were doled out to Richard Jefferson, Deron Williams and Kyle Korver at the same time. That's a defensive disaster waiting to happen. The Cavaliers can, and will, also change their coverage on Curry. Someone needs to pick him up closer to half-court.
None of this truly matters, though. Not when the talent gap is this large, and most certainly not when the Cavaliers have yet to prove they can give LeBron more than a minute's rest at a time before getting absolutely slaughtered.
If and when the Cavaliers look like a good bet, it'll be at home, not here.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-9)
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