After each game of the NBA Finals, Slate will be answering an important question: Who did it better?
Who did what better? That depends on the game. In Game 1, we highlighted Stephen Curry’s momentum-stealing eight points in 83 seconds. In Game 2, the big question was who would take over at point guard for the Cavaliers: undrafted backup Matthew Dellavedova or defensive specialist and Knicks castoff Iman Shumpert.
In hindsight: Really? Was there any question who would run the Cavaliers offense in Irving’s absence? Yeah, it was LeBron James. James finished with 39 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 all-important assists in the Cavs’ 95–93 overtime victory.
The Cavs didn’t move the ball as fluidly as they did against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, but James did manage to get all of his teammates involved in the offense. Early on, his favorite target was Timofey Mozgov, who finished with 17 points, including seven free throws.
Cleveland’s other guards (Dellavedova, Shumpert, and J.R. Smith) all struggled in Game 1, but James showed his trust in his teammates, passing to all of them even as they missed key shots. He was rewarded when Smith and Dellavedova, especially, found a rhythm in the second half.
And sometimes, of course, James settled for his first option: himself.