2017 NBA Finals: Best defensive players through Game 2

May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second quarter in game one of the Western conference finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jun 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots against Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia (27) during the second half in game two of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots against Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia (27) during the second half in game two of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports /

4. Kevin Love

Surprise! Kevin Love was expected to be a huge defensive liability for the Cavs, but – I will argue – he has actually been their best defensive player. Many pundits predicted Tristan Thompson would play significantly more minutes than Love. Through the first two games, Love has played 20 minutes more than Double T, and for good reason.

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Thompson has failed to block a shot, and his mere three defensive rebounds have allowed several Warriors players to crash the glass for easy second chance points.

The Cavs got absolutely killed on the defensive glass when Thompson was in the game, and held their own when Love was on the floor. Through two games, the Warriors have collected 11 of their 24 offensive rebounds in the 32 minutes love was on the bench. His defensive rebounding is crucial to the Cavs.

While stats are never a perfect indicator of defensive impact, Love’s Defensive rating per 100 possessions is 112, the lowest on the team, and he is the only Cavalier to have a higher offensive rating that his defensive rating. This indicates that his lineups didn’t necessarily sacrifice offense for defense, as lineups with – for example – J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson might be designed to.

The Warriors tried to put Love in several pick and rolls in Game 1, and he did a good job fighting under screens to stay close to his man. Granted, he guarded the least offensively gifted big man at any given time, but he didn’t commit any silly fouls. When Steph and Klay drove into the lane, he took up space in the passing lanes. He had a nice block on Klay at the 8:00 minute mark in the second quarter of Game 1.

In Game 2, Kevin Love tried to draw a charge on Thompson that was called a block – and an and-1 – but it showed good hustle.