NBA-Play offs-Finals-Warriors looking for a big step forward to the ring

Western Conference Finals
Tip-off: Sunday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Golden State -6.5, Total: 208.0

The Cavaliers will be looking to avoid a 2-0 series deficit when they face the Warriors on Sunday.

Cleveland looked miserable in Game 1, losing 104-89 as a six-point road favorite on Thursday. The Cavaliers shot a miserable 38.1% from the floor and turned the ball over 15 times in the game.

They will need to be a lot better offensively on Sunday, but they also need to do buckle down defensively as well. The Cavaliers allowed the Warriors to shoot 49.4% from the floor in Game 1 and it’s hard to imagine Cleveland winning a game without holding Golden State to 45% or worse from the field.

The Warriors, meanwhile, will be feeling excellent about the way they played. Golden State’s bench outscored Cleveland’s 45-10 and the team now gets to play at home once again in Game 2.

The Warriors are 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS when hosting the Cavaliers over the past three seasons, so Cleveland will be tasked with winning somewhere where the team hasn’t been great in the past. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they are 18-7 ATS when playing only their second straight game in five days this season.

The Warriors are, however, 21-7 ATS after a non-conference game this season. Both teams will be at full strength coming into this game, so injuries will hopefully not factor into the outcome of this one.

The Cavaliers looked horrible on Thursday and one guy that must step it up in Game 2 is SF LeBron James (24.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 7.1 APG, 2.2 SPG in playoffs). Although James didn’t have much help from his teammates in Game 1, he did shoot just 9-for-21 from the floor and turned the ball over four times.

This team is at its best when James is playing mistake-free basketball and he must be more efficient for the remainder of this series. He also took far too many jumpers on Thursday and will need to make it his goal to get more shots around the rim on Sunday.

PG Kyrie Irving (24.4 PPG, 5.0 APG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) is going to need to be a lot better defensively moving forward for Cleveland. He had 26 points in Game 1, but his deficiencies on the defensive end were what stood out. The Warriors kept attacking him on Thursday and he’ll need to show a lot more effort on that end in Game 2.

PF Kevin Love (17.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG in playoffs) also needs to be better in this series. He had 17 points and 13 boards in Game 1, but he was 7-for-17 from the floor and that is not a very good percentage for somebody with his size. He’ll need to start getting some more out of his touches around the basket, as it would really give him some more space to utilize his jumper moving forward.

The Warriors dominated the Cavaliers in Game 1 and the guys that were responsible for that were PG Shaun Livingston (8.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.1 RPG in playoffs) and SF Andre Iguodala (8.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs).

Livingston and Iguodala came off the bench to combine for 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Both of them were excellent on defense and the Warriors are going to be unstoppable if they can continue to provide this type of offensive production.

PG Stephen Curry (25.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) and SG Klay Thompson (25.2 PPG, 1.1 SPG in playoffs), meanwhile, combined for just 20 points in Game 1.

The two of them were really off with their jumpers, but that is actually a reason for the Warriors to be even more confident about the way this series will go.

It’s unlikely that Curry and Thompson will combine to score less than 40 in many games in this series, so the Cavaliers are going to have to deal with them going off eventually.

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