Grantland Making Sense of the Madness in Game 2 of the 2015 NBA Finals
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Basketball
I'm pretty sure the following happened:
- Speights missed that dunk.
- The Cavs blew an 11-point lead in just over three minutes.
- J.R. Smith committed two dumb-ass J.R. Smith fouls, and then a third foul when he bit on Steph Curry’s pump fake with 29 seconds left in overtime.1
- Timofey Mozgov played one of the very best halves of his life, fell through a wormhole, and reappeared in some other dimension.
- LeBron missed every shot he took after drilling what appeared to be the dagger that put Cleveland up 11. The misses included a tricky left-handed layup at the end of regulation, two Draymond Green blocks, and a half-dozen maulings at the hands of Andre Iguodala. LeBron traveled before one such mauling, an especially blatant karate chop, but Iguodala committed uncalled reach-in fouls on almost every LeBron drive in crunch time. (That’s not a shot at Iguodala. It’s just a fact. LeBron would make his move left, and Iguodala would stick his forearm into LeBron’s chest, slow LeBron’s momentum, yank his forearm away, and slide backward stride-for-stride with LeBron. Iguodala discovered that the officials weren’t going to call those old-school forearm-checks, and he responded with the optimal tactics.)
- Cleveland missed a potential game-winning second-chance buzzer-beater for the second straight game.
- Green held LeBron down on a jump ball with 45 seconds left in overtime and somehow got away with it. The referee threw the ball up, no one touched it, and it fell harmlessly into LeBron’s hands — a violation. I cornered Green in the locker room after the game to see if he might cop to the crime, but he pleaded ignorance.
- Stephen Curry, the greatest shooter in league history, went 2-of-15 from 3-point range and barfed up an air ball on a potential game-winning jumper with seven seconds left.
- Cleveland has seven NBA-level players left, and two of them — Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova — appeared to suffer minor leg injuries. The Cavaliers won the game.
- The Cavs got away with playing Mike Miller for six minutes. The Cavs should not be able to get away with playing Miller. They certainly couldn’t against Chicago.
- Golden State committed three egregious turnovers in the last 1:25 of overtime. On the first, Curry forced a cross-court pass to Klay Thompson when Green was rolling wide open to the rim right in Curry’s line of sight. Shumpert swiped the pass and went coast-to-coast hoping for a layup. Thompson, doing his best Danny Green impression, approached Shumpert from an angle, jumped slightly sideways to avoid Shumpert’s body, and raised his arm just high enough so Shumpert had to alter the trajectory of his shot. Shumpert missed, with a little help from a block by Thompson.
- Shumpert and Thompson made two splendid basketball plays within a delirious four-second slice of time. They canceled each other out. Did they even happen?
This game was madness.
“It was miserable to watch,” David Lee told me afterward. “I really thought we were gonna win when we sent it to overtime. It was just a crazy game. Both teams won the game about five times.”