DeMarcus Cousins comes up big when it matters

The Golden State Warriors were up against some adversity in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. After the loss on the road to Toronto in Game 1, everyone expected the Warriors to come out and fight. The question was besides Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, who was going to show up and be that unsung hero? Was it going to be Andre Iguodala? Was it going to be Kevon Looney? Or would it be Draymond Green? Well, it was neither of these names mentioned that was the unsung hero in Game 2. All had moments in the game and unfortunately Looney left the game with an injury and did not return, but the unsung history was a guy that wasn't expected to even play in the NBA Finals. In fact, it was a player that got injured in the first round of the NBA playoffs and willed his way back to be healthy for the NBA Finals only to play eight minutes in the first game. Eager to step in and step up for the Warriors and make an impact, DeMarcus Cousins got the start in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at center and with his 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, he officially was a huge difference-maker in the Warriors wining Game 2.

From the start of the game, Cousins seemed determined to bring some intensity. He quickly hugged up on Marc Gasol defensively off the opening tip of the game. While that play did not seem to be that big to many watching the game, it actually was huge. It helped set the tempo of the game defensively for the Warriors, as they were much more physical than they were in the first game off the series. And in addition to the physical temp set, the physicality of Cousins seemed to throw Gasol off a little bit. In the first game, Gasol was doing essentially anything he wanted on his way to 20 points on 6/10 shooting from the field. In the second game, Gasol got nowhere near those numbers. He was only 2/7 from the field on his way to six points. Gasol was also noticeably gunshy when it came to shooting the basketball, as he passed on some shots that he could actually make. The physical play off the bat along with the 10 rebounds (nine on the defensive end) was huge for the psyche of the Warriors and it benefited them tremendously.

Along with being physical and rebounding well on the defensive end, Cousins also showed up on the offensive end. When he arrived this season in Golden State, plenty wondered how he would fit in and how he would deal with not being a focal point offensively, especially coming back off an Achilles' injury. He dealt with it solidly, having some games where he would get touches and others where he would not get so many touches. After he got injured early in the playoffs, those same questions on how he would fit in would arise again. Well, not only did he show up on the offensively end, but he showed he is adept passer. There were times in the game where Cousins was allowed to post up on Gasol or whoever the Raptors would have to defend him. Against any Raptors center, Cousins is easily going to win that matchup when it comes to posting up and making something happen. And not only did he make things happen for himself, but he also was able to dish out passes from the post to open Warriors players. And his passing was a key part of the run the Warriors had beginning the third quarter that would put them in control of the game. His six assists in Game 2 were second only to Draymond Green. The Warriors did not become stagnant with Cousins in the game and the movement away from the ball made them even more dangerous.

The Warriors had to win Game 2 and they went out and did what they were supposed to do. The surprising part of the game was the pieces that showed up around Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Quinn Cook hit some big shots, Andre Iguodala sealed the game with his three in the final moments, but Cousins definitely showed up at the right time for the Warriors when they needed him the most. Kerr pressed the right button for Game 2 and it will be interesting to see what adjustments the Raptors make to the adjustments Golden State made for Game 2.

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1 Response

  1. They seem to have lost Klay temporarily but if Boogie is back into game shape, if Iguodala keep doing vintage Andre “NBA Finals MVP” Iguodala things and they get Kevin back in a game or 2, they’ll be at full strength and close to unstoppable. Game 2 was part of that window of opportunity for the Raptors and it is slowly closing but they are still very much alive!

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