NBA Finals Game 1 Notes

Well, a lot happened in game one of the Finals, and you thought this wouldn’t be interesting. LeBron James dropped 51 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, the controversy of the block/charge call, the George Hill missed free throw, the insanity of the JR Smith play, and the scuffle at the end of the game that may lead to a suspension; insert the Maximus asking ‘are you not entertained?’ gif. Besides all of that, there was a really good basketball game and here are some notes and clips from game one that both teams should be aware of heading into game two.


These teams prefer to play basketball at a massively different pace, the Warriors want to play fast, during the playoffs and before the Final they had an average pace of 99.88. The Cavs have been trying to slow down games during the playoffs with an average 93.85, second slowest in the playoffs.

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In game one of the finals, the pace of the game was in favor of the Cavs at 92.59, they were able to keep the game fairly slow, they didn’t get caught up in trying to run with the Warriors who had 28 fast break points which will come up later. The Cavs did have 10 post up possessions, they should try to double that in game two to keep the pace low, they have several ways to get LeBron in the post.

Crashing the Glass

I’ve been banging this drum since the Houston Rockets outrebounded the Warriors in game 7 of the conference finals. The Cavs do not have a lot of areas where they can take advantage of the Warriors but they can on the offensive glass. They certainly did just that in game one, winning the offensive rebounding battle 19 to 4, second-chance points 21 to 10. When a big like Larry Nance has a guard on him when they run pick-and-rolls they have the advantage on the glass. Down the stretch, the Cavs were getting two or three attempts every possession and it led big points for the Cavs.

Most teams prefer to get back in transition defense instead of crashing the glass and it makes perfect sense to not want to get hurt in transition by the Warriors. If the Cavs can keep the offensive rebound advantage, it will make it harder for the Warriors to leak out.

Live Ball Turnovers

Turnovers hurt the soul of every coach; some even believe a puppy dies every time a turnover is committed, but there is a subset of turnovers that, even more, live ball turnovers destroys teams. The difference between a live ball and dead ball turnover is that at least in a dead ball turnover, the offending team can set their defense, live ball turnovers lead to transition baskets. These two are examples of how it got the Warriors running and going in transition with dunks for Kevin Durant.

The Cavs had only 11 turnovers but 8 of them were live-ball turnovers that the Warriors weren’t able to convert them all into transition but the type of turnovers the Cavs will be very critical in game two.

Cavs Defensive Miscues

The Cavs have been terrible defensively all year and the Warriors prey on defensive miscues. It happened several times when the Cavs defenders weren’t on the same page as to who was switching and when. Jordan Bell got a layup when both Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love mess up a switch on a Curry pick-and-roll, then Korver and Jeff Green both stay with Durant while Thompson pops out to three. Green seemed hesitant to level Durant and that gave Klay a wide-open three. Finally, Hill and Smith mess up an off-ball switch that led to a JaVale McGee dunk.

Switching defensively when done correctly is a sign of total trust and communication between teammates. The examples above show what it looks like when there is no trust or communication between teammates when switching.

Suspensions could play a major role in game two, the NBA has announced Kevin Love will not be suspended but there is a chance Tristan Thompson could be forced to sit out game two. The Pace, the battle of the offensive boards, the live-ball turnovers and defensive miscues are just a few things to keep an eye on in game two of the Finals on Sunday.

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