KYRIE’S LEFT KNEE – Will he be able to play, and if so, how effective can he be? Is what he gave you in Game #1 vs Atlanta (10pts-6ast on 4-10fg) what we should expect from this version of Kyrie Irving? Or can the ALL-NBA 3rd team point guard adjust his game to where it’s not an attack the rim game, but more of a pull-up and catch and shoot game? We’ll see.
HOW’S SHUMP JUMP? – Iman Shumpert seemed to re-aggravate his groin injury in the second half of Game #1 which hampered his jumping and lateral movement. His defense was outstanding, but his offense suffered as he scored just 4 points on 1-7 shooting. Just like Irving, because of the injury, does he have to adjust his game, and if so how effective will he be at both ends of the floor?
BENCH BUNCH BE BETTER – J.R. Smith was phenomenal in Game #1 with 28 points, but the rest of the Cavs bench scored as many points as I did….ZERO! There has to be more consistency than that. Yes James Jones has had one good game in these playoffs with 17 points and Matthew Dellavedova dropped 19 on the Bulls in Game #6 last series, but both of those players have been inconsistent on offense. That has to change, especially with the injury to Kyrie Irving and the fact that both players could be playing more minutes than originally expected.
SHARPER EDGE – Whether LeBron wanted to admit it publically or not, the Cavaliers were the underdog heading into Game #1 in Atlanta. Vegas had the Hawks as 1 point favorites. Whenever you’re the dog going into a game, you tend to play with a little more edge and with a chip on your shoulder to prove people wrong and the Cavs did just that in the first contest of the Eastern Conference Finals. But how does David Blatt’s squad keep that edge in Game #2? It’s human nature to come into the next game less focused because of a 1-0 series lead, you stole home court advantage and the Hawks best defender in DeMarre Carroll may or may not play in Game #2. What does “King James” do to make sure that he and his teammates play with the same intensity and focusness (Jim Thome term) that they did in Game #1 and not just be satisfied with splitting in Atlanta? Are the Cavs mentally tough enough where complacency won’t set in? Again, like with Kyrie and Iman’s injuries, we’ll see.
DEATH TO THE STANKY LEG OFFENSE – As great as LeBron James was when he was attacking the basket in the second quarter of Game #1, scoring 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting, he was that horrible in the fourth quarter playing iso-ball or as I like to call it running the “Stanky Leg” offense. He got cocky when DeMarre Carroll went out with an injury and Paul Milsap had to try and guard him. Instead of playing through the game plan that helped build an 18 point fourth quarter lead, LBJ started playing the scoreboard and the offense came to a screeching halt that almost cost them the game. James admitted that it indeed was his fault after the game, that it was on him, and that it can’t happen again. That’s great that he recognized that and admitted it, but will it actually change? He’s been doing this for years. It’s one of his few bad habits that he seems to fall back into. The “Stanky Leg” has to disappear if the Cavs want to not only win this series against Atlanta, but also have a chance to win the NBA Championship!