Cavaliers expanded lead while LeBron James rested in Game 2


LeBron James is great, and two games of the NBA Finals have shown he’s capable of leading practically any supporting cast to a championship level while he’s on the court.

But that still leaves a few minutes each game when he rests. In an airtight series that has seen two overtimes, those few minutes are crucial.

It appeared the Cavaliers were doomed offensively during those stretches – especially without Kyrie Irving, who scored or assisted all Cleveland’s points while LeBron sat in Game 1.

Instead, the Cavaliers actually outscored the Warriors, 4-2, without LeBron in Game 2.

Cleveland didn’t turn into an offensive juggernaut, scoring its four points on four real possessions (not counting Matthew Dellavedova picking up the ball in the backcourt in the final seconds of the third quarter). But with its stellar defense and 50 minutes of LeBron, that was enough.

Without LeBron, the Cavaliers mostly worked through Timofey Mozgov on pick-and-rolls. That failed to generate anything on the first possession. On the next two, the ball-handler – Iman Shumpert and then Matthew Dellavedova – got a screen from someone else before working into the pick-and-roll with Mozgov. Both times, Mozgov drew a foul made the pair of free throws.

Here are those sequences:

When LeBron rested for the third and final time late in the third quarter, Mozgov was off the floor. Cleveland tried running a pick-and-roll with Tristan Thompson instead, and the results could have been disastrous if not for Marreese Speights’ missed dunk:

If Speights makes that, LeBron’s resting periods – and the game – could have gone differently. Ditto if Mozgov, a 72% free-throw shooter on the season, misses one his attempts from the line. Or if Andrew Bogut makes one of his two during this stretch. Or if Draymond Green allows the Cavaliers to complete their intentional foul of Bogut on another possession here rather than missing a jumper. Or if…

In an overtime game, there are countless “what ifs?” But Cleveland came out ahead in Game 2.

Moreover, the Cavaliers found something that worked with Mozgov screening and rolling.

Intentionally fouling Bogut wasn’t a bad idea. It was among my suggestions, though I’d prefer to do it with LeBron in the game and getting a de facto rest during the defensive stoppage. But if Cleveland can play the Warriors to a draw, let alone an advantage, playing straight up without LeBron, all the better.

David Blatt should ensure Mozgov plays the entire time LeBron sits in Game 3. Leaning on Mozgov might not be sustainable, but I’d take my chances with that for now. It at least worked in Game 2.

Steve Kerr should focus on making the pass to Mozgov more difficult to complete or not giving him such a clear path to the rim. Andrew Bogut twice got caught in no man’s land between the ball-handler and screener with little ability to get a stop, and neither Stephen Curry nor Andre Iguodala adequately tagged Mozgov during either foul-drawing roll. One of those things needs to change, though the former could make it easier for the ball-handler to drive and the latter could make it easier for him to find spot-up shooters on the perimeter.

The Warriors didn’t defend poorly while LeBron sat, but this as easy of an opportunity as they’ll get in this series. They must take better advantage.

PBT Podcast: Breaking down Game 2 of NBA Finals, can Cavaliers keep this going?


We’ve got a series on our hands.

We’ll admit it: In the last PBT Podcast, after the news of Kyrie Irving’s injury, we pretty much wrote off the Cavaliers chances. But LeBron James has been every bit the best player in the world and the Cavaliers are showing a strong, grinding style that has evened the NBA Finals at 1-1.

In today’s edition of the PBT Podcast, we’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down Game 2 and looking ahead to Game 3. Is LeBron going to continue to get help from his bench? Can the Warriors make adjustments that free up Stephen Curry and their shooters? Starting with Game 3 the real chess match of this series begins, and we talk about it all.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Stephen Curry posts worst NBA Finals Game Score by MVP in 26 years


Stephen Curry played terribly in Game 2.

He shot 5-for-23, including 2-of-15 on 3-pointers and committed six turnovers. He air-balled the potential game-winner in overtime and threw away the ball on the Warriors’ final possession.

It was a disastrous performance for anyone, let alone the reigning MVP.

Here’s how every MVP has performed in each Finals game since 1985, as far back as has complete game logs. To measure, we’ll use Game Score:

the formula is PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTAFT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * PFTOV. Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game. The scale is similar to that of points scored, (40 is an outstanding performance, 10 is an average performance, etc.).


Game Game Score
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G1 40.8
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G1 37.9
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G2 37
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G1 36.9
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G4 35.6
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G1 35
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G3 35
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G2 34.7
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G2 33.5
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G1 33.5
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G5 33.3
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G2 33
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G1 32.6
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G7 32.5
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G6 32.2
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G6 30.9
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G1 30.9
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G5 30.7
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G2 30.6
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G6 29.7
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G4 29.6
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G5 28.7
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G4 28.7
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G4 28.6
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G6 28.5
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G3 28.2
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G3 28.1
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G4 28
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G4 26.3
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G5 26.1
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G6 25.9
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G6 25.8
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G5 25.7
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G3 25.6
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G5 25.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G3 25.4
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G4 25.3
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G6 25.3
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G6 25.1
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G2 25.1
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G2 25
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G2 24.8
Michael Jordan: 1991 CHI-LAL G3 24.8
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G2 24.7
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G3 24.1
Shaquille O’Neal: 2000 LAL-IND G3 23.6
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G3 23.6
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G2 23.3
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G2 23
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G4 22.5
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G1 22.3
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G7 22
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G4 21.9
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G2 21.8
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G4 21.5
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G1 21.5
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G5 21.2
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G1 21.2
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G3 20.9
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G3 20.7
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G4 20.6
Stephen Curry: 2015 GSW-CLE G1 20.4
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G1 20.4
LeBron James: 2012 MIA-OKC G3 20.4
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G2 20.2
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G2 20.1
Magic Johnson: 1987 LAL-BOS G6 20.1
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G1 20.1
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G1 20
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G1 19.5
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G4 19.4
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G5 19.2
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G3 19
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G5 18.7
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G3 18.6
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G5 18.4
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G1 18.3
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G4 18.3
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G4 18
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G2 17.9
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G6 17.8
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G7 17.7
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G6 17.7
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G4 17.3
Michael Jordan: 1992 CHI-POR G3 17.1
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1994 HOU-NYK G5 17
Magic Johnson: 1988 LAL-DET G5 16.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G5 16.2
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G6 15.6
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G1 15.6
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G5 15.1
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G6 14.9
Michael Jordan: 1998 CHI-UTA G5 14.8
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G4 14.3
Larry Bird: 1986 BOS-HOU G5 12.4
Charles Barkley: 1993 PHO-CHI G1 12.1
Larry Bird: 1985 BOS-LAL G3 12.1
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G5 11.7
Karl Malone: 1997 UTA-CHI G2 11.6
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G1 11
LeBron James: 2013 MIA-SAS G3 10.3
Michael Jordan: 1996 CHI-SEA G4 9.8
Tim Duncan: 2003 SAS-NJN G2 9.5
Kobe Bryant: 2008 LAL-BOS G6 8
Allen Iverson: 2001 PHI-LAL G2 5.2
Stephen Curry: 2015 GSW-CLE G2 2.9
Magic Johnson: 1989 LAL-DET G3 -0.7

The only mark worse than Curry’s 2.9 is Magic Johnson’s -0.7 in Game 3 of the 1989 NBA Finals. But Johnson played just five minutes, missing a couple shots and dishing an assist, due to a hamstring injury suffered in Game 2. He missed all of Game 4 as the Pistons completed the sweep.

Curry played 42 stunningly awful minutes.

Credit Matthew Dellavedova and the Cavaliers’ defense. They performed well.

But also blame Curry for laying an egg when it counts most. MVPs aren’t supposed to play this way.

Until last night, it’d been a long time since one had.

Warriors fan makes halfcourt shot to win car (video)


Maybe the Warriors should have let this guy – rather than Stephen Curry – take the potential game-winner last night.

Matthew Dellavedova came up big in Game 2, especially on game-winning sequence (video)


With the Cavaliers trailing the Warriors by one and 10 seconds left, James Jones missed a 3-pointer. Six players scrapped in the paint for the rebound.

  • LeBron James (Cleveland): 6-foot-8, 250 pounds
  • Tristan Thompson(Cleveland): 6-foot-9, 238 pounds
  • Draymond Green (Golden State): 6-foot-7, 230 pounds
  • Harrison Barnes (Golden State): 6-foot-8, 225 pounds
  • Andre Iguodala (Golden State): 6-foot-6, 215 pounds
  • Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland): 6-foot-4, 200 pounds

Who got it? Dellavedova – giving up 2-5 inches and 15-50 pounds – of course. He also drew a foul and hit what would be the game-winning free throws in the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win.

It was the biggest of many key plays by Dellavedova, who started for the injured Kyrie Irving.

Dellavedova shot 3-for-10 and committed six turnovers, but he helped at the right times. When you’re playing with LeBron, that’s enough.