PeacePlayers International is big on basketball. It’s definitely something we do. When we aren’t working to bring people together through sport, at the end of the day, we’re still hoops junkies like the rest of you. This week, PPI’s Communications Intern, Nathan Smith, shares his thoughts about the NBA Finals and a thrilling Game 2:
We’ve all heard it before: defense wins championships. But to be honest, we tend to ignore it. I mean, you can’t win unless you score more than the other team, right? Offense is flashier, prettier and let’s be honest, more fun. But if you watched Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night, defense was the name of the game, and the team that defended the best took home the win.
When the Cavaliers lost Kyrie Irving for the rest of the NBA Finals after Game 1, we can all be honest with ourselves. We wrote the Cavs off, and didn’t hesitate in crowning the Golden State Warriors NBA Champions. Teams don’t tend to succeed without two of their three best players, and it seemed that after this latest catastrophe, the Splash Brothers & Co. would reign supreme.
A funny thing happened in Game 2, however. The Cavs won despite their lack of stars, winning in Oracle Arena against a team that waslost twice there during the regular season. How did they do it? Defense. Pure and unadulterated defenseStephen Curry drives by Matthew Dellavedova in Game 2 of the NBA FInals.
The Cavs held a team that had been shooting nearly 46 percent from the field to shooting below 40 percent. They held the Warriors to 10 points below their playoff average, and 17 points below their regular season average which led the NBA and limited Steph Curry to 19 points on 5-of-23 shooting. The biggest play of the game wasn’t Matthew Dellavedova’s clutch free throws to put the Cavs ahead with seconds to go, but his defense of Curry in the waning moments that ensured a Cleveland victory.
Matthew Dellavedova, to be honest, is an inferior offensive player to most of his Cavaliers teammates. But he’s the catalyst for a defensive team that has transformed their playing philosophy in the span of one game. LeBron James said it himself in the post-game press conference. Calling his team the “Grit Squad,” James said, “If you’re looking for us to play sexy, cute basketball, that’s not us right now.” And it’s not. But what’s wrong with that?
The Cavaliers before Irving’s injury were that team. His injury forced a team to go from flashy to gritty; from showing off their offense to throwing everything they had on the other side of the ball. Everyone counted the Cavs out when another star player went down, but for basketball purists, for those who remember the days of hard fouls, hustle plays and what physical play really meant, this series was just getting started.