Cavaliers’ recipe calls for extra toughness
The first-half list of baskets for Golden State’s Kevin Durant in Game 1 of the NBA Finals went like this: layup, dunk, jumper, dunk, dunk, dunk, dunk, layup, dunk, layup.
Most were easy.
And easy isn’t supposed to happen, especially not at the rim in the NBA Finals.
Forget all the things Cleveland did wrong offensively in Game 1, the poor shooting and the 20 turnovers and how the bench basically contributed nothing and how Rihanna got — and merited — more commentary from ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy than J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson did.
The Cavs can score. They’ll likely be better on Sunday night in Game 2. That isn’t the issue.
The issue is this: If the reigning NBA champions don’t show some toughness — especially at the rim — soon, they won’t be reigning NBA champions much longer.
“I think that’s how Cleveland is going to approach it, make it a physical game,” Michael Cooper, now the coach of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream who went through some epic Lakers-Celtics battles as a player in the 1980s, said before the series began. “Golden State wants a finesse game.”
Finesse won Game 1.
And after a team has been blown out in the playoffs, history shows that team typically tries to make a statement in Game 2 that things will be different.
Funny thing is for Cleveland, the Cavs had the answer they needed to just that three months ago in Andrew Bogut. Problem is, they only had him for 58 seconds .
Let’s clear up a misconception: Golden State’s biggest undoing on the way to blowing that 3-1 lead in last season’s NBA Finals was not Draymond Green’s Game 5 suspension for connecting with LeBron James’ midsection.
The Warriors lost that series because Bogut — their best rim protector — got hurt in Game 5 .
And this year, it was Cleveland’s turn to lose Bogut.
He started the year in Dallas, got traded to and ultimately waived by Philadelphia, and signed with Cleveland because the Cavs knew they needed — and wanted — another tough guy who could clog the lane and had playoff experience.
And there is no doubt he would have been eager to go against the team that jettisoned him to the Mavericks to make room for Durant.
But Bogut checked into a game against Miami for his Cavs debut, collided with Heat rookie Okaro White, and broke his left leg. Season over.
Golden State vs. Cleveland
Warriors lead 1-0
All games on ABC
■Game 1: Golden State 113-91
■Sunday: at Golden State, 8
■Wednesday: at Cleveland, 9
■June 9: at Cleveland, 9
■x-June 12: at Golden State, 9
■x-June 15: at Cleveland, 9
■x-June 18: at Golden State, 8