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NBA Finals notebook: Cavs need double-duty from James

By Mike Popovich and Joe Scalzo | The Canton Repository Published: June 7, 2017 10:49 PM
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Through the first two Finals games, LeBron James led the Cavaliers in points (28.5 per game) and assists (11.0) and was second in rebounds (13.0).

When asked if James can continue to take such a heavy load considering he’s also guarding Kevin Durant, Cavaliers coach Ty Lue said, “Yes, he can. That’s why he’s the best player in the world. He has to do it. K.D.’s guarding him.”

Besides, Lue said, guarding Durant is a multi-player job for the Cavaliers, just as multiple Warriors have a hand in guarding James.

“It’s not just a one-on-one game,” he said before the game. “We have to understand what our schemes are, who we’re trying to help off of and what we’re trying to do. So guarding Kevin Durant or LeBron James or Steph Curry, any one of those guys one-on-one, Kyrie, you’re not not going to be able to do that.”

Keeping the pace

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After two convincing losses to start the Finals, many argued that the Cavaliers should slow down the pace, similar to what they did two years ago because of injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

But Lue believes the Cavs are at their best when they play fast. It’s other things — missed shots, bad shots, turnovers — that hurt them.

“We want to play fast; we don’t want to play in a hurry,” Lue said. “We want to get good shots. We don’t want to take the long 3s and things like that. But when we’re playing aggressive, when we’re in attack mode, playing it with pace, that’s when we’re at our best. But taking good shots.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says the Cavs are at their best when they are playing fast.
 
“We like the pace; they like the pace,” Kerr said. “It makes for entertaining basketball. And it comes down to who executes, who takes care of the ball, who gets back in transition.”
 
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The Warriors looked unbeatable at home, just as they did a year ago when they raced out to a 2-0 series lead.
 
Kerr, however, thought his team took a bit of a step back in Sunday’s 132-113 victory over the Cavaliers.
 
“I liked Game 1 better than I liked Game 2 in terms of how we’re playing,” Kerr said. “The turnovers are a big gauge for us.”
 
Golden State shut down the Cavs and turned the ball over just four times in Game 1. Twenty Warriors turnovers briefly kept Cleveland’s window of opportunity open in Game 2.
 
“We were sloppy in Game 2,” Kerr said. “We shot the ball well, but I didn’t think we played that well. I thought our Game 1 execution was much better.”

Shared history

The Warriors went into Wednesday aiming to have the all-time professional sports record for consecutive playoff wins all to themselves.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Golden State and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins shared the record with 14 straight playoffs. The Penguins did it during the 1992-93 season.


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