The Cleveland Cavaliers spurned a huge opportunity to win game one of the NBA Finals, allowing the Golden State Warriors to snatch the victory in overtime.
George Hill was handed two free-throws to first tie and then delivery the victory. Lee successfully sunk his first attempt to level the scores, but missed the second. Fortunately for the Cavs, JR Smith gathered the rebound only to lose his head completely.
Smith lost track of the score and ran away in apparent move to kill the clock in the dying seconds of the game. Only when he caught sight of LeBron James did he make an attempt to go for the hoop, but time had ran out before Hill could get a shot away after receiving the ball.
The Warriors were ruthless and put Cleveland to the sword in overtime, racing to a comfortable win. The end of game debacle overshadowed one of the finest Finals performances of all-time from LeBron. The 33-year-old almost single-handedly won the game for his team, scoring 51 points. He was outstanding all over the court, making 19 of his 32 attempts from the field.
At times LeBron battled the four All-Stars on the Warriors on his own. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all operating at levels near their best. However, it appeared those efforts were to be in vain when Hill stepped up towards the free-throw line.
The Warriors were not at their best in game one of the Finals and can thank Smith’s lack of composure for their victory. Had he gone for the rim rather than running out the clock, Steve Kerr’s men may well have lost the contest. However, they were at their clinical best in overtime, punishing the Cavaliers for their mistake. There was a huge injury let-off for Thompson when it appeared that his involvement in the Finals could be over after a collision with Smith. He was able to return to the court and put 24 points on the board, finding his rhythm in the second half of the contest.
That has been the case for the Warriors throughout the post-season. They’ve made poor starts to their games, especially in the Conference Finals. In the second half it is almost as if a switch has been flipped, allowing Curry, Durant and Thompson to find their range from the perimeter. Curry made a clutch play before the half that was crucial in the scheme of events. Another error by Smith allowed him a free shot from 30 metres. He nailed his attempt, ending the half level instead of a three-point deficit. Curry’s performance was hit-and-miss in game one, making 47.8% of his attempts from the field. The 30-year-old was still extremely effective and took the game away from the Cavs in over-time. Curry operating at the peak of his powers is a terrifying prospect for Cleveland to deal with.
Durant was not quite at his best either. The 29-year-old was MVP of the Finals last season, but did not enjoy a strong start. His shooting was well off line in the first half. Durant rebounded with a strong end to the contest, notching 26 points. However, he will have to improve from the perimeter after scoring only one of his seven three-point attempts. Golden State are in a fortunate positon to have secured a 1-0 lead even without their best players at the peak of their form.
Game one was a huge opportunity spurned by the Cavaliers. LeBron put on a spectacular display – one of the greatest of all time in the Finals. However, as has been the case throughout the campaign, his supporting cast let him down. Hill should have sunk the second free-throw to hand his side the lead, although it’s a slightly more forgivable mistake than Smith’s. Who knows what Smith was thinking when he grabbed the ball and ran away from the net. It will go down as one of the biggest blunders in NBA history as the point guard appeared to forget the score. He should have gone for the hoop to hand his side the win. Instead of being the hero, Smith is now the villain and will have to perform heroics in atonement for his mistake.
Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Smith’s performances in the post-season have been awful to say the least. His shooting from the perimeter is meant to be a strength of his game, but the 32-year-old made only two of his 10 attempts from the field, scoring 10 points. Jeff Green and Hill were not a great deal better, while Jordan Clarkson was a detriment to team in his time on the court. Larry Nance and Kevin Love were up to the challenge and provided LeBron with the support he needed in the final third. Love was on form in the paint, although the Cavs will not want to see him shooting from distance again, making only one of his eight three-pointers. He needs to maintain that level of form to support LeBron.
For LeBron himself there’s not a lot more he could have done. Scoring 51 points along with eight rebounds and assists should be enough to win any game. However, due to the faults of others it was not enough to get his team over the line. It’s clear that the Cavs need a superhuman effort from him to even match the Warriors on the court. He’s capable, but he may wear down over the course of the Finals.
There’s not much to say about game two as the Cavaliers cannot play better than they did in the opener and they still weren’t able to close out the victory. Golden State were not quite at their best, but still had the quality in the vital moments to edge out their opponents. Kerr’s men have the opportunity to go in for the kill against a team that will have been crushed by Smith’s late blunder. Take the Warriors to win the game at odds of 3/201.15-6700.15-6.700.15 with BetOnline, while back the Cavaliers on the spread of +10.5 at odds of 11/102.10+1101.101.10-0.91 with 888Sport.
Golden State Warriors To Beat Cleveland Cavaliers Game Two
Sunday 3rd June 2018 20:00 ET (Monday 4th June 2018 01:00 BST)
Take +10.5 Spread Cleveland Cavaliers
Sunday 3rd June 2018 20:00 ET (Monday 4th June 2018 01:00 BST)
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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