For the first time in NBA Finals history the first two games went to overtime, but this time the Cleveland Cavaliers came out on top. They knocked off the Golden State Warriors, 95-93. LeBron James willed the Cavs to their first Finals victory in franchise history and evened the series at one game apiece.
Not only did James lead the team in scoring, but also in rebounding and assisting. He controlled the pace of the game as he recorded the fifth triple-double of his Finals career with 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists. It wasn’t his best shooting night, connecting on 11 of 34 shot attempts, but his focus didn’t falter.
The Cavaliers played their heart out on defense, holding a great Golden State Warriors offensive team to under 95 points (in 53 minutes of basketball). The majority of the credit goes to Matthew Dellavedova, who played tough, physical defense on Stephen Curry all game. Curry had to earn his 19 points the hard way. The point guard missed 13 3-point attempts, the most in NBA Finals history.
In addition to Delly’s defense, his offense came through late in the game. After going scoreless in the first three quarters, the Aussie converted two quick buckets in the fourth. He later connected on a three off a LeBron James assist. None of his points were more important than his two free throws in overtime, essentially giving Cleveland the victory. He finished with nine.
Additionally, the Cavs got tremendous production from Timofey Mozgov. The center was attacking the basket with authority and giving the Warriors problems in the paint. At times, the Cavalier offense was actually running through him. Although Mozgov struggled at the foul line early, he found his rhythm and converted his last four attempts. The Russian big man finished the game with 17 points and 11 boards.
This is the kind of production that LeBron James needs from his supporting cast. Obviously, the forward has no problem finding his buckets. J.R. Smith contributed 13 points before fouling out of the game. Iman Shumpert drained an overtime three to bring his total up to seven and James Jones added eight.
The series now shifts to Cleveland and is set to tip off at 9 p.m. Tuesday. The Cavaliers come home looking to take command of the series.
Fun Fact: Cleveland delivered Golden State just their fourth loss at home this season.
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