2016 NBA Finals Game 2 Preview

Before Game 2 tips off on Sunday at 8pmET on ABC, take a deep dive into our infographic preview via NBA.com/Stats!

Team Matchup

The Warriors rode a strong bench performance to a Game 1 win. The entire Warriors team shared the ball well as they assisted on 67.4% of their team field goals.

For the Cavaliers, the three-point shot fell short. The Cavs shot 43.4% from beyond the arc entering Game 1, the best three-point percentage of any playoff team, but were limited to 33.3% (7–21) shooting on three-pointers in the opening game.

Bench Shooting

The Warriors bench outscored the Cavs, 45–10, as a new “Big 3” emerged of Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa.

Livingston led the way with a postseason career-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Barbosa chipped in with a perfect 5-of-5 from the field for 11 points, his playoff high for this postseason. Iguodala finished with a +21 point differential, the highest by any player in Game 1. The bench play was crucial as star players Klay Thompson and Steph Curry had off nights. This was the third game this postseason that Klay Thompson has hit 33% of fewer of his shots in a game and in the first two instances he bounced back with strong performances the next game out. Ironically, all three of Klay’s worst shooting games (33.3% or lower) came in games that the Warriors won handily.

Coaches

Coaches Steve Kerr and Tyronn Lue traded lineup maneuvers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Kerr, who finished with 18 lineups used, made the most surprising move of the night by playing Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston together. Although these players all routinely see minutes played, this 5-man lineup had played only twice together throughout the season. The first game was October 31, 2015 when the lineup played for only 42 seconds of the 4th quarter in a victory over the Pelicans. Then, 210 days later, the lineup appeared again in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals when they finished the last 3.7 seconds of the 3rd quarter. The lineup finished the game with 20 points scored and a +10 in 7 minutes of game action.

By contrast, the Cavaliers and Coach Lue stuck with their starters for 20 minutes of Game 1. These minutes were more than double the minutes the next highest Cavaliers lineup played. Despite the loss, the starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson were able to finish at a +3 plus/minus. In an interesting move, Lue only played the Cavaliers lineup that torched the Raptors only half a minute to open the 2nd quarter. The combination of LeBron, Dellavedova, Shumpert, Richard Jefferson, and Channing Frye has a net rating of +45.5 points per 100 possessions this playoffs, yet was only used for that brief stint in Game 1. Look for Lue to continue to play his starters lengthy minutes in Game 2.

LeBron in Game 2s

LeBron James has been here before — down 0–1 in the NBA Finals. Playing in his seventh NBA Finals, LeBron’s team has lost every Game 1 except the 2011 matchup against the Mavericks. LeBron shines in Game 2s, and only has faced the 0–2 deficit way back versus the Spurs in 2007. James should be soaring with confidence as he and his teams have won four straight NBA Finals Game 2s.

After dropping the first game in last year’s Finals, James exploded for 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. This was only the 2nd 35–15–10 game in Finals history, with the first being “Big Game” James Worthy’s infamous 1988 Game 7. Although he struggled against Golden State’s rim protectors in Game 1, James will look to finish stronger at the rim. LeBron shot an uncharacteristic 6/14 (42.9%) on shots within 5 feet of the rim, a stark deviation from his 69.1% in the regular season. Look for James to continue to attack the basket in order to collapse the defense and give the shooters around him space to launch from distance.

Warriors Chances after winning Game 1

On the flip side, the Warriors have history on their side as well. 71% of teams who are victorious in Game 1 proceed to win the NBA Finals.

The Warriors are 3–0 in Game 2s during this year’s playoff run, and their offense finds a rhythm averaging 114.3 points per game. In their last Game 2 against Oklahoma City, the Warriors shot 50.6% overall, and knocked down 13 of 28 (46.4%) three pointers. Bringing in a 39–2 regular season and 10–1 playoff home record, the Oracle Arena will be rocking as usual as the Warriors will play to go up 2–0 on the series.

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