OAKLAND, CA (WOIO) - The Cavaliers have been knocked down before, but not often. The Toronto Raptors stunned 'em with back-to-back wins in the Eastern Conference Finals before the Cavs responded with two blowouts to close out the series. But the Warriors aren't the Raptors.
They're obviously far better, and much deeper, as they proved again in Game 1 when their bench outscored the Cavs' bench 45-10. So, moving forward into a critical Game 2, how do the Cavaliers contain Steph Curry and Klay Thompson again without letting the rest of the Warriors take over?
They push the pace. Play faster, which is something that head coach Ty Lue has been preaching since he took over. And, they follow LeBron's lead. James is a staggering 9-0 in Game 2's in his career when he's lost Game 1.
"My teams have always been able to recalibrate, look at the mistakes and come up with a game plan in Game 2 and be able to execute it", James told reporters at Oracle Arena on Friday.
J.R. Smith and Channing Frye also have to be far more involved. Smith didn't take his first shot (a missed 3) until 1:45 remained in the first half. He'd finish with three points. Frye finished with only two points, on free throws, and only attempted one 3.
Those stats tell you that the Cavaliers got away from the formula and philosophy that got them here. Ride the shoulders of the Big 3, but have Smith and Frye deliver the dagger 3's. I asked Frye how vital it is for he and J.R. to be big factors in this series.
"Huge," Frye told me at the team's shootaround on Friday. "And I think not all the time does it have to do with scoring. Just being out there and creating space to the rack."
Kevin Love agrees, although he knows those 3's are crucial when LeBron and Kyrie are pushing the pace.
"Where we've been so devastating and effective is when our guards, primarily LeBron and Kyrie, play downhill and we're able to find ourselves on the perimeter," Love said.
There's no way to overstate the importance of Game 2. A win gives the Cavaliers exactly what they wanted coming in, a split here in Oakland. A loss? It means the Cavs would have to win 4 of the remaining 5 to win the series. Not impossible, but certainly not the scenario you want when you're playing the defending champs.
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