Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals was far more competitive than expected. Propelled by 51 points from LeBron James, Cleveland nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory by beating last season's champions on their home court. The Cavaliers managed to force overtime, but it was then when the Warriors took control and extended their lead to double figures.
Before the Cavaliers look to even up the series on Sunday, here are three things to watch for in Game 2...
Can the Warriors keep the Cavaliers off the offensive glass?
If you're searching for a non-LeBron reason why the Cavaliers were able to keep up with the Warriors in Game 1, look no further than offensive rebounding.
Cleveland pulled down a total of 19 offensive rebounds in Game 1, which helped the Cavs score 21 second-chance points compared to only 10 for Golden State. James and Larry Nance Jr. led the way with four offensive rebounds each, followed by JR Smith (three), Kevin Love (two), Tristan Thompson (two) and Jeff Green (two).
While some of those offensive rebounds were unavoidable — there's only so much much Klay Thompson and Nick Young can do when they switch onto Nance and Tristan Thompson underneath the hoop — a number of them simply came down to effort. Kevin Durant, for example, failed to put a body on Love on this possession, leading to a layup for the Cavaliers:
Durant made a similar mistake several minutes later, though he and the Warriors were lucky Smith didn't capitalize on the opportunity in the same way Love did:
Durant wasn't alone, either. As outmatched as he is against Tristan Thompson, Klay Thompson could've done more to prevent the Cavaliers big man from sneaking his way to the basket here:
The Warriors need to do a better job on the defensive glass in Game 2 if they hope to avoid another wire-to-wire thriller. They put themselves at risk of giving up the occasional offensive rebound when they go to smaller lineups with Draymond Green at center, but size wasn't always the problem in Game 1.
Will the Cavaliers shoot better from distance?
James finished Game 1 with eight assists, and he could have had at least a couple more had the Cavaliers not struggled as much as they did from the 3-point line. Not only did they shoot 27.0 percent from the perimeter as a team, they missed 14 of their 17 3-point attempts set up by LeBron.
James pass to...3PM3PA3PT%Kevin Love050.0JR Smith1520.0Jeff Green1425.0Kyle Korver1250.0Jordan Clarkson010.0
Most of those misses were open, too. LeBron got into the paint at will in Game 1 and found his teammates time and time again when the Warriors collapsed on his drives. Green and Korver hit back-to-back 3-pointers off passes from James at the start of the fourth quarter to cut Golden State's lead to one point, but the Cavaliers otherwise couldn't make the Warriors pay when they sent multiple defenders at their MVP.
How will Kevin Durant bounce back?
Durant didn't look like the reigning Finals MVP in Game 1. He scored 26 points, but did so on 8-for-22 shooting from the field. He was also struggled on defense