Give the Cleveland Cavaliers credit. They did not listen to the consensus of fans who felt the series was basically over with the loss of Kyrie Irving to a dislocated kneecap. Whatever LeBron James said to his team before the game to make them believe they could win, it worked. He promised that they would be ready for the Warriors in Game 2 and they were. Cleveland played with heart, grit and determination and won a hard-fought 95-93 battle in overtime.
Although the game was exciting down to the very end, I personally do not like the kind of basketball that was being played. First of all, the officials let the game get way too physical. The fouls that they were letting players get away with became almost comical. I even found myself feeling a little bad for LeBron at one point, as he was being absolutely hammered every time he went to the basket with no foul being called. As usual, James put up big numbers, getting a triple-double, though he shot only 11of 35 from the field to get his 39 points.
In addition to the overly physical nature of the game, the Warriors were very sloppy with the basketball. I was worried early on that they had conned themselves into thinking it would be an easy game. Once they jumped out to an early eight-point lead, I thought that Steve Kerr had convinced them of the urgency necessary to win the game. However, I believe that once they got the early lead, they let down a bit, which gave Cleveland a glimmer of hope that it could even the series.
Cleveland center Timofey Moscov was a beast. He made a significant difference for the Cavaliers as he established a huge inside presence, pulled down 11 boards and contributed 17 points. When the Cavaliers have outrebounded their opponents in the playoffs, they have won. Last night did not change that telling statistic, as the visitors won the battle of the boards by a 55-45 margin. Golden State gave up 14 offensive rebounds, and Matthew Dellavedova's in overtime was a dagger.
Thank goodness for Klay Thompson. Maybe he got tired of hearing so much about Stephen Curry being the man or maybe he just decided to make a splash of his own. Whatever the reason, Thompson was phenomenal and really was the reason the Warriors were able to keep things close. His departure from the game in the first quarter with two quick fouls seriously hurt the offense, as he was the only consistent player in that regard.
I highly doubt that Curry will have another poor shooting game like the one he had this time. Steph did make a great drive to send the game to overtime, but he never got into an offensive rhythm and most of his shots were rushed and off the mark. Dellavedova deserves credit for making him work exceptionally hard all night.
The Warriors have not played their best basketball yet, but props should go to an injury-plagued Cleveland team for the way they played on the road. Honestly, they could have won both games. Now Golden State must meet the challenge of having to win at least one of the next two games in Cleveland in order to regain the home court advantage.
I pride myself on being in pretty good shape for an older guy, but I'm not sure that my heart can take another overtime game. Wow! What a series so far! I can't wait for Game 3 on Tuesday.
Rick Barry played eight seasons for the Warriors and was the captain of their only Bay Area NBA championship team. In 1987, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His commentary will appear exclusively in The San Francisco Examiner throughout the playoffs.