The Cleveland Cavaliers have been blown out in the first two games of the NBA Finals. They are facing a historically great Golden State Warriors offense stacked high with weaponry. In reality, there’s not much hope for a comeback.
But any shred of hope, no matter how dim, is based on the idea that Tyronn Lue’s team needs to slow down the pace of play and make things ugly. LeBron James was asked about this today and gave no indication that the obvious adjustment will be made.
James may not want to give an inch to the Warriors by admitting the Cavs need to alter course. But he’s not fooling anyone. Golden State is hard enough to beat in a limited possession game, let alone a track meet.
Look at the blistering pace of play through the first two games this year.
Game 1: Warriors 113, Cavaliers 91. Pace: 99.5. Total shots: 192
Game 2: Warriors 132, Cavaliers 113. Pace: 106.4. Total shots: 189
Now compare it to the relatively reasonable speed last year’s Finals maintained.
Game 1: Warriors 104, Cavaliers 89. Pace: 89.5. Total shots: 171
Game 2: Warriors 110, Cavaliers 77. Pace: 93.2. Total shots: 160
Game 3: Cavaliers 120, Warriors 90. Pace: 93.7. Total shots: 167
Game 4: Warriors 108, Cavaliers 97: Pace: 84.3. Total shots: 162
Game 5: Cavaliers 112, Warriors 97. Pace: 98.9. Total shots: 171
Game 6: Cavaliers 115, Warriors 101. Pace: 93.9. Total shots: 159
Game 7: Cavaliers 93, Warriors 89. Pace: 90.7. Total shots: 165
Only Game 5, the one Draymond Green missed due to suspension, approached the pace we’re seeing this week. The four Cavs victories averaged 165.5 shots, 25 less than the 2017 Finals are averaging.
Do James & Co. really think they can win playing right into the Warriors’ preferred style of place? If so, why? What bit of evidence suggests that could be the case?
We’ll find out for sure Wednesday night. Anyone pining for a competitive series should hope they pump the brakes on this losing strategy before it’s too late.