“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
That phrase made famous by HBO’s Game of Thrones kept running through my head after the Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Golden State Warriors with a 95-93 overtime victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night. It probably helped that I watched Game of Thrones shortly after the game wrapped up, but it’s also because based on what happened in Game 2, it proves that I basically know nothing.
When Kyrie Irving went down with a fractured kneecap at the tail end of Game 1, I thought it was all over for Cleveland. How were the Cavaliers supposed to beat the best team in the league without both Irving and Kevin Love? How were they supposed to win short-handed in a building where the Warriors had lost just three games all season heading into Sunday night? How was Matthew Dellavedova supposed to keep up with Stephen Curry after looking thoroughly overwhelmed in Game 1?
With everything going against the Cavaliers, I went against them as well, figuring they’d be swept or would maybe take one game at home before bowing out in five games. I wrote off Dellavedova even after seeing him have some big moments on the way to the Finals.
Clearly, I know nothing.
First off, counting out LeBron James was a foolish endeavor that should never have been done. Even though his shooting numbers haven’t been the best and he’s missed a couple of key shots in the first two games, he’s done a masterful job dictating the pace of these games and putting the team on his back. LeBron and the Cavaliers turned these first two games into grind-it-out affairs with minimal possessions, which isn’t ideal for Golden State. The Warriors have proven they can win the ugly way thanks to their elite defense, but these slower games aren’t the preference.
Dellavedova bounced back from his forgettable Game 1 with an unforgettable Game 2, even though he was largely terrible offensively. Never mind the 3-of-10 shooting or six turnovers. Instead focus on his game-saving offensive rebound and ensuing game-winning free throws, to go along with the lockdown defense he played on the league MVP. Sure, Curry missed a good amount of shots he normally makes, but Dellavedova’s scrappy, physical defense took Curry out of his rhythm from the start, and he was never able to find it outside of a brief stretch at the end of regulation.
The Warriors do so many things in an attempt to free Curry for shots, but Delly was with the MVP almost every step of the way, getting up in his grill, sneakily grabbing his jersey and just being the world-class irritant that he is. Curry didn’t help his own cause by forcing up some awful shots (there were a few shots he basically just flung at the rim), but again, the Aussie gets plenty of credit for the MVP’s 5-of-23 showing.
This very well could turn out to be the highlight of the series for the Cavaliers, because it’s still difficult to see them winning the series like this. The Warriors will make adjustments and Curry almost assuredly won’t shoot that bad again. Ultimately, I still expect them to be triumphant.
But I’ve been doubting the sustainability of the Cavaliers’ success all postseason, but they keep winning these games with a huge diet of LeBron and a defense that has transformed into an elite unit.
I may know nothing, but I’m done counting these Cavaliers out until I see the Warriors celebrating and hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.