CLEVELAND (KRON) — A perfect game only exists in baseball, if we’re being technical, but for a Cleveland team trying to avoid a 3-0 hole, anything short of perfect simply won’t cut it.
And what I mean by that is everyone and everything has to click from the start for the Cavs.
Kyrie Irving has to get going offensively from the jump. Kevin Love needs to be looked for early. JR Smith has to shoot and actually make some shots.
Smith is averaging just 1.5 points over the first two games and was asked after practice yesterday what he needs to do to get back on track.
“Honestly, nothing,” he said. “I’ve gotten the same looks the first two games this year and last year. It’s just a matter of continuing to do what I did last year.”
As for the magician Irving, his tricks haven’t been as ravishing so far as they were in last season’s finals. The 21.5 points per game is not bad, but the 4.5 assists is and must go up for the Cavs to remain competitive. Irving, as effective as he is in getting his own shot, must be as effective in creating for his teammates.
“I know how important I have to be in order to go forward for us to have any chance at this series,” Irving said. “And it’s our job, my job to exude as much confidence as I can in them in order to get the very best, and I will do that.”
Irving is evidently aware that he needs to step up and help the lone Cavs player doing anything right now, the king, Lebron James.
The four-time NBA MVP has been remarkable through two games, averaging 28.5 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks.
At this point, the only thing he can possibly do more of is score a few more points, and perhaps we’ll see that tonight if the role players still can’t find offense themselves.
“It’s not just LeBron, it’s our whole team,” said Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue. “We all have to play better, and we will.”
Lue is confident and hopeful of his team, but he’s a coach — he’s supposed to be like that.
He was asked what he needs from starting center Tristan Thompson to turn this series around.
“It’s not anything Tristan isn’t doing,” Lue said. “I just think that against this team you have to score the basketball.”
Indirectly yet as blatant as can be, Lue said he needs Thompson to score because eight points combined in two games on 40 percent shooting for someone who takes all his shots in the paint is a bit concerning.
So yes, Lebron needs help on the offensive side of the floor, and on the defensive side, Cleveland looks like it needs a sixth man.
With Klay Thompson having regained his shooting touch and the Warriors coming off an 18-made-threes performance in Game 2, the Cavs will have to be quick to close out on the perimeter.
Just as important to defending the three ball will be the ongoing epidemic of slowing down the Warriors’ transition game in which the Western Conference champs have outscored the Cavs 58-39.
But James said that slowing the game down is not an option.
“That’s not our game — we don’t play slowdown basketball.”
In James’ case, he’s right, that isn’t Cleveland’s game. The reigning champs ranked fourth in the regular season in points per game (110.3) and third in offensive efficiency (110.9).
Unfortunately for James and the Cavs, the Warriors ranked first in each of those categories with 115.9 points a game and a 113.2 efficiency rating.
Defensively, Cleveland will have to crowd Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry when they get the ball, force them to give up the ball and make other guys create offense because in Oracle, they made it look really easy.
Things could change tonight with the series now shifting to Quicken Loans Arena where the Cavs are confident they will play well.
“It will be a great benefit for us. We play well at home, a lot like Golden State, who did what they were supposed to do and played great at home,” said Kevin Love. We know that the crowd’s going to be into it and it’s going to be a big ovation for us taking the floor. So we’re going to use that to our advantage.”
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