Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NBA FINALS REPORT –
CAVS SCRATCH OUT A GAME 2
OVERTIME WIN AS SERIES SHIFTS TO OHIO …
THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK:
THE AL EAST (FINALLY) FLEXES
ITS MUSCLES AS YANKEES, JAYS
AND RED SOX ENJOY WEEKEND SWEEPS
Gee, what's gonna be on the NBA Finals agenda for Tuesday's Game 3?
Will we be headed for a third consecutive overtime affair between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers … or is somebody gonna simply take this series by the horns and make it theirs to win?
In Sunday night's wild 95-93 OT win by 7.5-point road underdog Cleveland, the Cavaliers shot a meager 29-of-89 from the floor (that's 32.2 percent) and blew an 11-point lead with 3:13 left in regulation play and – somehow, some way – gathered up enough emotional energy to win in the extra session even though LeBron James (an amazing 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists) and Company missed more free throws and bricked more shots in those final added five minutes of play.
Okay, so every game has to have a "goat" – if you will – and easy to point at Golden State guard/league MVP Stephen Curry for his ugly stat line that included 5-of-23 field-goal shooting including a 2-of-15 night from beyond the three-point arc but you better put some blame on the shoulders of rookie head coach Steve Kerr who didn't exactly make sure guard Klay Thompson got a whole lot of open looks even though he carried the Warriors with a whopping 34-point game plus overall that vaunted G-State bench failed miserably at home here in Game 2.
Just as the Cavs looked at their 108-100 OT loss in Game 1 as one that "got away" the Warriors will be lamenting the fact it turned this "slow waltz" game into a pressure cooker late and then still couldn't get mission accomplished in the overtime session … and let us go on record to state that the referees sounded all the favorable whistles to Cleveland in the first half and then seemed to want to not give James a break down the stretch.
The game was sloppy and poorly played for most of the night; ditto the officiating but gotta say that after watching both Games 1 and 2, we're right we're we should be in this series.
Warriors with one win; Cavaliers with one win.
Anyone that sees it differently is just not paying attention – even though you could argue that both teams won the games they didn't deserve to win!
Now, here's the Cavaliers-Warriors series in game chart form (and note that all home teams are in CAPS below):
|6-6||Cleveland||+ 7.5||Golden St.(OT)||95-93|
On Tuesday, it's …
NBA FINALS – Game 3
GOLDEN STATE at CLEVELAND – 9 p.m. ET, ABC; Series tied 1-1
Lots to pick apart when it comes to the post-Game 2 strategies and so here's some of what we will be watching here at "The Q" in this pivotal Game 3 …
The Cavaliers know King James (50 minutes of game action in Game 2) must be ready for a 45-minute type night here and so they must give him some breaks on the offensive end meaning PG Matthew Dellavedova – who played a masterful defensive game on Curry in Game 2 while also grabbing the game's biggest rebound that led to his go-ahead free throws with 10.1 seconds remaining in OT – did have just one assist in 42 minutes of play in Sunday's game and so head coach David Blatt has to get Dellavedova to make some clean feeds into the post to C Timofey Mozgov (17 points in Game 2) and also find three-ball shooter J.R. Smith (just 5-of-13 FG shooting in Game 2) enough times so that James can catch his breath on that end of the floor … how can anyone assume James will have lots in his tank late when he is being asked to play point guard, shooting guard and wing man all at once?
Naturally, the Warriors – who shot just 33-of-83 from the field in Game 2 – know Curry has to be "feeling it" here or the Western Conference champs will be in a heap of trouble but maybe an even bigger issue is G-State must perk up the pace of play here because it's normally in the Warriors' nature to get up shots in the first 10-to-12 seconds of the 24-shot clock and too many times the clock's melted down thanks to combat-like Cleveland defense.
Expect more run-outs for Curry and Thompson plus something tells us the Warriors – who lost the Game 2 rebound battle 55-to-45 (although it seemed even more lopsided!) – have to hit the boards more and that might mean Draymond Green (10 rebs in Game 2) plays some "zone" and drops down low to help Andrew Bogut (also 10 boards in Game 2) because Golden State simply can't get-out-and-go if it is surrendering a slew of offensive boards.
The Cavs "went small" for much of the time in the fourth quarter and OT and we believe that was a mistake because it kayoed Mozgov off the floor; play Mozgov with board-banger Tristan Thomas (14 rebounds on Sunday night) and simply get better spacing or sit Thomas for a few minutes because someone's got to help James on the offensive end.
The fact of the matter is the Warriors have played better ball on the road in this year's playoffs as Kerr's crew is 5-2 SU (straight-up) and 4-3 ATS (against the spread) away this post-season while Golden State's 8-2 SU but just 4-6 ATS as hosts – maybe the Warriors play looser here and get into that run-run style without feeling any heat from that frantic home crowd.
Now hear this …
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THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK
Hey, maybe the much-maligned American League East is gonna shape up into something special when all's said and done this year – and maybe the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are all gonna be part of a fun free-for-all when it comes to the division and maybe even a wild card to boot.
Consider that this past weekend, the Yankees (32-25), Blue Jays (28-30) and Red Sox (27-31) all swept weekend series at home and consequently the three big-league teams that entered this brand-new work week with the longest winning streaks were the Yankees (six straight wins), the Blue Jays (five wins in a row) and the Bosox (those three consecutive wins).
After all, the AL East has been a veritable laughingstock some eight weeks into this here-and-now baseball season as teams have bumbled and stumbled over one another for much of the time but the all-too-inconsistent Yankees finally have a little working rhythm after putting together back-to-back three-game series sweeps at Seattle and then at home against the Los Angeles Angels and did you notice that Joe Girardi's club right now ranks second in the junior circuit in home runs (71) and third in the league in runs scored (259) and in Sunday's 6-2 loss that rock-solid bullpen threw three scoreless innings after LHP CC Sabathia was ejected for arguing balls-and-strikes. P.S., eighth-inning reliever Dellin Betances and closer Andrew Miller struck out a combined five-of-six hitters to help warup up the sweep.
Meanwhile, Toronto's turned the beat around on its slog-like season with two straight wins in Washington followed by a three-game weekend sweep against the AL West-leading Houston Astros and – in case it had not been pointed out to y'all – the Jays lead the AL in runs differential with 45 and even a team that ranks dead-last in the AL in team ERA (4.31) put together a nice weekend while allowing just 10 total runs. Okay, it helped matters that in Sunday's 7-6 win over the 'Stros there was Jays slugger Jose Bautista whacking a pair of home runs (he has 11 on the year now) but, then again, you expect the long ball from this Toronto lineup but not necessarily some snazzy pitching.
Finally, nary a good word has been uttered regarding the Red Sox all year long but the weekend sweep over Oakland – 4-2, 4-2 and 7-4 – might serve to take the heat off manager John Farrell and jump-start a team that ranks next-to-last in the league in team ERA (4.30).
Hey, Boston showed major moxie in rallying from down 4-0 on Sunday by scoring 7 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning as Rusney Castillo homered and stroked a run-scoring single in that explosive frame and SS Xander Bogaerts whacked a go-ahead, two-run double.
So, for at least one June weekend, the AL East was nothing to laugh about … agree?
NOTE: There's more NBA Finals coverage in the next edition of Jim Sez!
END END END …