So much for the sweep.
The Cleveland Cavaliers – without Kevin Love, without Kyrie Irving – beat the Golden State Warriors, 95-93, in overtime Sunday to even the NBA Finals at one game apiece. Games 3 and 4 are Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, in Cleveland.
Do the Cavs now have control of this series?
“I don’t know about control,” NBC Sports ProBasketballTalk analyst Kurt Helin said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It’s now a best-of-five. It’s still pretty even. They’ve . . . posed some problems now for Golden State to fix. I mean, Golden State didn’t really make many adjustments in this game. They thought they’d come out and play better and they didn’t.”
The Warriors shot 33-of-83 (39.8 percent) from the floor, including 8-of-35 (22.9 percent) from three. Stephen Curry shot just 5-of-23 (21.7 percent), and he and Thompson combined to shoot 6-of-27 (22.2 percent) from distance.
“You’ve got to credit the Cavaliers’ defense with a lot of that,” Helin said. “They were contesting shots. Steph Curry was 1-of-9 on uncontested looks because I think he was rushing – because it was in his head a little bit and he was not on pace. Remember, he struggled through Games 2 and 3 against Memphis. We’re going to see if they can overcome it. The Cavaliers can play this way. They’ve been playing this way for awhile now.”
Helin felt Golden State looked stagnant offensively in Game 2.
“They shot earlier in the clock, they rushed, they stood around a little more than we’re used to seeing from them,” Helin said. “But to the credit of the Cavaliers, they’ve also taken away the easy baskets. LeBron has really controlled the tempo, and their offensive rebounding has just kept Golden State from getting the easy buckets.”
Tristan Thomspon has excelled defensively and on the glass, while Matthew Dellavedova harassed Curry into 0-of-8 shooting.
“That lineup that the Cavaliers throw out there without Love and Irving are really good defensively,” Helin said. “They’ve been good all season that way. It’s not going to be a simple fix for Golden State. They’re going to have to hit some tougher shots that they were not hitting.”
Helin doesn’t expect a sudden change in philosophy from the Warriors, either. Make or miss, they’re going to keep chucking threes.
“That’s who they are,” Helin said. “It’s what they do. You have off nights. Steph Curry set a record for most missed threes in a (Finals game). He’s not going to go 2-for-15 again. I think that’s their philosophy. As well as they were defended, Curry hits contested, defended shots at a frighteningly regular pace a lot of the time. This was just not that night. I think that you’re going to see more motion. They didn’t get the dunks on the back cuts and some of the stuff that they got in Game 1. They need to get some shots at the rim again. They need to penetrate. They can’t just rely on (threes). I think they settled a little bit at times under the pressure.
“This is the thing with them,” Helin continued. “That game comes with flair and fun ball movement, but they make some odd decisions at times and they turn the ball over at times because of that aggressiveness. They need a night where those mistakes don’t happen, where those riskier passes pay off for them.”
The Warriors are hoping that night is Tuesday in Game 3. Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.