Locky: Why I’m Taking the Cavs and the Points in Game 2

Locky: Why I’m Taking the Cavs and the Points in Game 2 article feature image
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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kevin Love and LeBron James

OK, so I’ll be the first to admit I got lucky in Game 1. The over needed a little help (although just a tiny bit), and sure enough, JR Smith provided it. So I know all the people out there are trashing you, JR, but I just want to let you know I appreciate you. You and me, we’re good.

You know who isn’t good, though? Tony Brothers. With three seconds remaining in overtime, he called a flagrant 2 foul on Tristan Thompson, and I lost a prop on whether there would be a flagrant foul called in the series (I had “no” at +250). That was tragic.

 

Thirdly, I talked a lot about Klay Thompson MVP futures before the game started, and they went from completely dead to slightly less dead, to “hey, that’s not bad,” and now he’s questionable for Game 2. What a roller coaster. He can definitely still win since Kevin Durant was so bad in Game 1. It’s really anyone’s award still. Even LeBron’s, but the series probably has to go for a bit.

Anyway, enough small betting anecdotes. There’s another game Sunday night, and I’ll be betting it.

I’m not surprised we’re essentially running back the same numbers for Game 2, with the total a little lower and Cleveland (which the public backed strongly in Game 1) a little less of an underdog. I’m less interested in the total this time with Klay’s health a question mark and the Warriors less likely to allow as many wide-open 3s (although they’ll still allow some because of how they play LeBron).

I just don’t see as much value there as I did in Game 1 when everyone was slow to react to all the new kinds of situations that emerged in a new matchup. The Warriors will most likely be using this time between games to analyze their defensive breakdowns (they said as much after Game 1), and Cleveland has had a game to re-acclimate itself to the different style of offense Golden State plays.

What I will say is that despite the public coming in heavy on Cleveland again in Game 2, I also like the Cavs, and I think a lot of the facets of their Game 1 performance are sustainable. Do I expect LeBron to have 51 again on so few shots? No, but I don’t think it’s completely absurd that he could come close again. His whole postseason has been absurd, and there’s an extra rest day built in here. That type of performance is more sustainable than it would be for basically anyone else.

That’s the level LeBron is at right now. Durant had some trouble guarding him, and the Warriors looked a little confused on how to handle some pick-and-rolls involving Durant early on. Without Andre Iguodala (and perhaps with Klay unavailable to throw at LeBron even to try to see what happens), LeBron really may just get these numbers with regularity.

Another important aspect of the Cavs’ strong showing was the performances of their bigs, and this is an area that is absolutely sustainable long-term. The weakness for the Warriors is on the glass, and if you can dominate them there, you can help even out the advantages they possess elsewhere. This is not new analysis, but I think it bears repeating that Cleveland’s 19 offensive rebounds are something we may absolutely see again unless Golden State changes its rotation significantly (like playing Zaza Pachulia in minutes Tristan Thompson is on the floor to help negate Thompson’s effectiveness).

I think it’s unlikely you see drastic changes lineupwise (other than the minutes that would replace Klay should he not play), so I consider the offensive rebounds something Golden State is just going to live with. LeBron and offensive rebounds were the truly elite aspects of Cleveland’s performance, and they are sustainable.

Not only that, but Cleveland’s poor shooting on wide-open 3s — the Cavs went 6-for-20, and they were also sub-20% on catch-and-shoot 3s) — while more likely to regress at home, really has nowhere to go but up entering Game 2. Cleveland +11.5 for me here, and if Klay is announced out, now you’ve really got the best possible number.


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Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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