Cavs — Warriors, Round 2!
It is always a fun matchup when these two get together to battle it out. Both teams are currently leading their respective conferences at the moment. LeBron James is having yet another stellar year with 26.1 PPG, 7.9 REB, and a very impressing 8.1 AST, highest since 09’-10’ season. His counterpart, Kevin Durant, has smoothly fit into the Warriors’ system with averages of 26 PPG, a career high 8.7 REB, and 4.6 AST. It’s safe to say that these superstars will show up when the bright lights come on. In their last matchup on Christmas Day, LeBron finished with a strong slash line of 31 PTS and 14 REB. Durant was sensational finishing with 36 PTS and 15 REB. LBJ and KD may not even be the key matchup every time these teams will meet.
The Point Guard battle between Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry should dictate a good amount of the final score. Even though Irving has had Curry’s number the past several matchups, the numbers head-to-head are actually pretty close, favoring Curry. In PPG, Curry is averaging 22.6, while Irving is averaging 21.1. However, I believe that Irving’s play directly corresponds to Cavalier success vs. the Warriors. Irving tends to deliver in clutch moments more often than Curry does. Few plays that come to mind that you may want to re-live are below:
(1) Irving’s block on Curry from behind in the final minutes of Game 1 in the 2015 Finals:
(2) The game winner in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals:
(3) Game winner on Christmas Day 2016:
There is no doubt that Kyrie has what it takes to be clutch when his team needs it most. Maybe even more clutch than LeBron? That’s another question for another time…
A key to this game for the Warriors is keeping Draymond Green out of foul trouble. He is undeniably the heart and soul of this club. Green’s versatility and playmaking ability separates him from every other Power Forward in the NBA. He is currently 7th in the league in assists per game with 7.5. With Green in the game, the Warriors offense and defense improve significantly. A key for the Cavaliers is Tristan Thompson’s play. His suburb offensive rebounding causes many problems against the Warriors when they go to their small lineup with Draymond at the Center position. If TT can gather in extra possessions for the Cavs, it could be a long day for the Warriors.
Needless to say, shooters are of plenty for both clubs. Klay Thompson was his usual efficient self on Xmas day going 5–11 from downtown to finish with 24 PTS. Kevin Love also had 20 PTS in their last meeting. The new addition of 2015 All-Star Kyle Korver has taken the league by storm. Korver is still one of the elite 3-point marksmen in the league and makes an already scary Cavaliers team scarier, especially while JR Smith continues to recover from injury. The addition of Korver gives LeBron and Kyrie options to kick out to. Korver forces the defense to space out, causing a lack of help defense by opposing teams.
In the last matchup between the two, the Cavaliers outscored the Dubs’ by 8 in the 4th quarter and erased a 14-point deficit. One of the key players off the bench for the Cavaliers was Richard Jefferson. I am a firm believer of teams’ momentum during a basketball game and RJ was a huge corporate for getting the Cavs just that. Jefferson had a dunk over Durant with 9:25 left in the 4th that really got the ball rolling for the Cavaliers. Then with 4:12 left down 4, he emphatically dunked on Klay. The momentum was clearly on Cleveland’s side, so it felt like an uphill climb for Golden State.
This time around could be different. The Warriors are 56–5 the past two seasons at Oracle. It is always a battle to the end between these teams. It will be exciting, fun, and entertaining to say the least.
We’d love to get your input over on AthletiQA on the upcoming game between the two Finals favorite: http://athletiqa.com/post/D7hSsaQjCjJLxWxbK.