With the NBA Finals now two games in, we have a pretty good feel for how each player is impacting the game. We’ve seen some usual bench players make big impacts, but also some players who usually contribute a lot not getting their usual minutes. Both teams have players who are playing well right now and who aren’t. Because they have players who aren’t playing well, they probably shouldn’t be playing as many minutes in these Finals games. Those who are playing well deserve to be in the game more than they have been. You can always make the argument that players like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James deserve more minutes, but they already play so much it’s hard to give them more. This would especially be unfair to LeBron, who pretty much plays the entire game anyway and does just about everything to even keep the team in the game. For that reason I’ve left the star players out of this conversation. Those who deserve more playing time are role players who have shown they can impact this series.
Larry Nance Jr.
Nance got a good amount of minutes in Game 1, but then his playing time took a hit in Game 2. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far from him. Yes, he does sometimes get destroyed defensively by Steph Curry’s dribble moves, but so do a lot of other players. Nance has done an incredible job of pulling down boards in this series. He had 11 boards in 19 minutes of Game 1 and 6 boards in 12 minutes of Game 2. 7 of those 17 rebounds have been offensive rebounds, giving the Cavaliers more second chance opportunities. He’s done a nice job of getting to the line as well in this series, the problem has been hitting the free throws (3-8). Overall, Nance has been an energizer for the Cavaliers. They’ll need his energy and tough rebounding in order to get back in the series.
Kyle Korver hasn’t really made an impact on the NBA Finals at all through the first two games, but he hasn’t really been given an opportunity to do so. Korver has played less than 20 minutes per game in both games. Yes, he’s only shooting 1-of-6 so far in the series, but Korver can impact the game even when his shots aren’t falling. We saw him make a huge impact for the Cavaliers against the Boston Celtics defensively and with hustle plays. That’s the kind of Kyle Korver the Cavaliers need. Some added shooting would be nice, but the Cavs should let Korver get more minutes so he can make an impact defensively.
McGee didn’t get many minutes in Game 1, but he made the most of the ones he did get. In 6 minutes of play, McGee went 2-of-3 from the field for 4 points, pulled down 1 rebound, and had 1 block. His play in Game 1 got him an increase in Game 2 minutes (18). In those 18 minutes, McGee went 6-of-6 for 12 points, pulled down 2 boards, and had 1 block. McGee has shot 8-of-9 from the field in the NBA Finals. This is really sad on the Cavaliers part, but when McGee’s on the floor, it looks like they don’t know what to do. Pretty much all of his points have been easy dunks. For whatever reason, nobody can guard him. Until the Cavs can figure out how to actually play defense on McGee, Steve Kerr should continue increasing his minutes.
While JaVale McGee has shot 8-of-9 from the field in this series, his teammate Shaun Livingston has shot a perfect 9-of-9. Hasn’t missed a shot in two games. Livingston has played 18 and 15 minutes in the first two games, which is pretty good, but for a guy making this kind of impact, the minutes should increase a little bit. Who cares if he doesn’t shoot the three? He knows how to use his size and he executes his game perfectly into how the Warriors play basketball. Much like McGee, the Cavs can’t stop Livingston. Until they can figure it out, he should continue getting more minutes.
Cedi Osman didn’t play at all in Game 1 and barely got any minutes in Game 2. I understand this is the NBA Finals and Osman is a young player who’s never been here before, but I feel like he can make an impact on the Finals if given the chance. He’s not the best at any one thing, but he’s solid in several areas. With how bad some of the Cavaliers players have been so far in this series, Ty Lue might as well give Osman the opportunity to play. I honestly feel like the Cavs would be better off playing Osman over a couple players they’ve played, Jordan Clarkson to name one. If the moment proves to be too big for the young player, then put him back on the bench, but at least let him have a chance to prove himself. He can’t possibly hurt the Cavs as much as some other Cavs players have in this series.