Cavaliers even up NBA Finals

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Photo above: Carlos Santana and his wife Cindy Blackman Santana, rehearse before playing the National Anthem for Game Two of the NBA Finals.

It’s game Two of the NBA Finals here at the Oracle Arena on Oakland, California and once again in this series, the fans of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers got an epic game for the ages.

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors

Golden State dodged a bullet last Thursday Night when LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Iman Shumpert missed shots at the end of regulation that would have won the game had either one gone in.

The Warriors went on to win in over time, out-scoring Cleveland 10-2 in those extra five minutes. Head coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors knew thy couldn’t depend on the Cavaliers to have a slump at the end of every game, so they needed to play better and stay focused until the final buzzer.

The Cavaliers know they had the win in their grasp Thursday Night and that they came out flat for the over time period in Game One. So they would be coming into Game Two more focused and prepared to play 48 minutes or more, if Game Two went to overtime.

But they would have to do it without their star point guard, Kyrie Irving, who is out for two to three months with a broken kneecap. He was injured in the overtime period and was helped off the court. The Cavs have won in the playoffs without Irving, but this is the Finals and they face the best team from the West.

And Game Two, like Game One, went to over time.

Sunday’s game didn’t start like Thursday’s game. In Game Two the Warriors didn’t let their opponents jump out to a big lead. They stayed even with Cleveland throughout, actually finishing the first quarter tied at 20. In the first quarter LeBron James led his Cavaliers with eight points and Klay Thompson led Golden State with eight points.

The second quarter was the same, both teams showing gritty defense, but players from both teams were able to score, LeBron James had 10 in the second quarter and Klay Thompson getting 11. But at the end of the half the Warriors found themselves one point behind the Cavs, 47-46.

The scoring slowed down in the third, both teams showing fatigue and frustration at the incredible defense. Surprisingly the Cavaliers did a great job of slowing down Stephen Curry, his scoring held to 9 in the first three quarters. Cleveland didn’t play a true point guard the entire game. Instead they used shooting guards and forwards to guard the league MVP, with Matthew Dellavedova taking over for the injured Kyrie Irving and the majority of the time defending against Curry.

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers

The strategy seemed to work, although Curry still managed to score 19 points in the game and make 5 assists, both below is season averages. It was clear at time he wasn’t in his groove and knew it.

Golden State outscored Cleveland in the fourth quarter, just enough to tie the game and force it into over time. But unlike Game One, the Cavaliers were not in a slump during the OT and finished the game two points ahead of the Warriors: 95-93.

This was a defensive game, but four players from the Cavs were able to put up double digit scoring. LeBron led all scoring with 39 points. Both teams have good benches and for Cleveland center Timofey Mozgov stepped up with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 34 points.

Game three will Tuesday, June 9 in Cleveland.

(All photos by Claudia Gestro)