It’s a common theme throughout the history of team athletics, a less talented squad triumphs over a superior foe due to their relentless nature and ability to execute and keep the thought to be superior team on it’s heels. It is a test of will rather than aptitude. This is the narrative curently constructing itself in this year’s NBA finals. The depthless, undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the favored Golden State Warriors 96-91 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Cavs have been on a defensive mission to muck up the game’s flow ever since their secondary star Kyrie Irving broke his kneecap late in the game 1 loss in Oakland. Matthew Dellavedova continued his stellar play on Stephen Curry limiting him to three points in the first half. Curry ended up with 24 for the game but Delly and crew made him work for each one. Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert took the brunt of the duty on Curry and just like they did in game two the fought through a bevy of screens and basically face guarded Curry and Klay Thompson to keep them from garnering a rithym offensively.
It was apparent from the start that Cleveland came with a scrappy, defensive mindset. In the first quarter James Jones and Mike Miller gave up their bodies to save loose balls.
It was also a grimey start on offense as well. LeBron James (40 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) asserted himself once again in the paint, banging his way through Warrior defenders. All of his field goal attempts in the first half were in the restricted area.
All of the effort limited the high octane Warriors to 37 points in the first half.
The momentum from the first half carried itself right into the third quarter. The Cavs outscored Golden State 28-18. They were led by 10 points from Dellavedova.
However the Warriors began to get their act together in the fourth, in particular Curry. The Warriors started on and 8-0 run to cut the lead to nine. And late in the fourth the lead was trimmed to one.
On the next Cavs possession Delly drew a foul on Curry that led to a three point play. James then followed that with a step back three pointer to bring the lead to seven.
But the game was far from over as Curry made some absolutely amazing shots to keep his time within striking distance.
There was even a chance for them to tie the game with under 20 seconds to go after Dellavedova seemed to stumble out of bounds on his own on an inbounds play. It was ruled an inadvertent wistle which gabe the Cavs the ball back and James went on to sink two free throws.
With a 2-1 lead