The Cleveland Cavaliers dropped Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals, but the Eastern Conference champs sustained a bigger loss when they found out Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap.
Now even more so, LeBron James must carry the team on his shoulders—just like the four-time MVP is doing with the city of Cleveland.
Nevertheless, despite James’ unmistakable greatness, the Golden State Warriors are the clear favorite to win the championship. With a core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors shouldn’t encounter many difficulties while attempting to dispatch the Cavs.
And according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James recognizes that commonly held belief. He said:
“[I] understand that we were the underdog coming into the series, and with Kyrie being out, people are writing us off. So, I mean, that’s fine. That’s fine. I’m motivated to get our guys ready to go tomorrow [for Game 2], and we will be ready.”
James tallied 44 points during the 108-100 overtime loss Thursday night, but Cleveland must replace Irving’s offensive contributions. The point guard registered 23 points and six assists as the team’s clear No. 2 option.
The Cavaliers survived Irving’s absence earlier in the playoffs, but Golden State is an entirely different opponent. Considering a full-strength Warriors squad boasts the third-best defensive rating this postseason, per NBA.com, simple motivation won’t overpower a stout opponent.
However, in Game 1, the rest of the Cavaliers combined to shoot a meager 11-of-34 mark from the field and 5-of-15 from three-point range. Cleveland needs J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova to provide an offensive boost in a big way.
To be blunt, James must receive elite execution from his teammates in order for the Cavaliers to have a fighting chance at winning a game, let alone the series.
But championships aren’t won on paper. Golden State cannot afford to relax, because if LeBron has his crew ready, Cleveland certainly could make Sunday night’s matchup a little more interesting than anticipated.
Photo: USA Today Sports