NBA: Cavs must start from scratch

Cavs forward LeBron James has been poring over reruns of their Game Two hammering, in a bid to improve and see what went wrong.
Cavs forward LeBron James has been poring over reruns of their Game Two hammering, in a bid to improve and see what went wrong.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Champs are looking at tweaking their line-up, heading into do-or-die Game 3

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • The Cleveland Cavaliers, down 2-0 after blowout losses to the Golden State Warriors, may change their starting line-up for Game Three of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue is considering starting Iman Shumpert in place of JR Smith in the backcourt for today's (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) game in Cleveland because of his defence, according to ESPN.

Shumpert experienced cramping in the second half of the Cavs' 113-132 Game Two loss on Sunday and required intravenous fluids after the game, a team source told ESPN. The guard finished with six points, four rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes off the bench, shooting only one-of-six from the field.

But the Cavs may start the 26-year-old in a bid to try to slow down Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

In Game Two, Curry recorded his first career post-season triple-double with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Durant - seeking his first ring - had 33 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five blocks.

Smith has been a non-factor in the two losses, with just three points on one-of-four shooting in 28 minutes in Game One. He had zero points in Game Two after taking just two shots from the field and picked up four fouls in 14 minutes.

Lue said a full 48 minutes of defensive focus will be needed to contain the Warriors.

"Having awareness - can't relax, can't fall asleep," he said. "Their offence is constant movement, so you got to be locked in, you can't take a peek somewhere and lose your man. They make you pay."

The Cavaliers forced 20 turnovers in Game Two but still suffered a heavy defeat.

Cavs star LeBron James vowed to watch the film to see ways they can be better.

Last year, after they fell behind 3-1 in Cleveland, team-mates huddled around his tablet computer on the flight back to the Bay Area. The informal meeting helped shape the Cavs' plan to slow the pace and hammer Curry with pick-and-rolls.

It led to the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.

"We still remember what happened last year," said Warriors guard Klay Thompson. "It's fresh in our minds."

So while the Cavs cling to hope based on what they did before, the problem is what else do the Cavs have up their sleeves against a team now powered by Durant that have been unbeatable in the play-offs.

No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA play-off series.

"We have to defend our home court," said Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. "It definitely is a must win."



Game 3, Cleveland v Golden State: Singtel TV Ch110, 9am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Cavs must start from scratch'. Print Edition | Subscribe