Warriors throttle LeBron, Cavaliers in Game 2 of NBA Finals
OAKLAND — It won’t be too long now until the Golden State Warriors repeat as NBA champions.
The team is still two victories away, with a fair bit of basketball still to be played, but after clobbering the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 on Sunday night at Oracle Arena, the Warriors moved into a great spot.
Since 1983, 16 NBA teams have gone up two games to none at the Finals. All but one of them eventually sealed the deal.
The 2005-06 Dallas Mavericks were the only one of those squads that failed to close things out from there, losing four straight to the Miami Heat.
There are no indications these Cavaliers can do the same. Not with two different versions now losers in seven straight against the Warriors.
Cleveland had entered Game 2 looking to push the pace and get more movement on offence. That didn’t happen. Neither did an expected uptick in the shooting department from beyond the arc. Instead, Cleveland was dreadful on three-pointers (5-for-23 ) and awful as well in the paint.
LeBron James nearly had a triple-double at the half and the Cavs only trailed by eight thanks to a late 7-0 run, but it never really felt like the visitors had control of this one.
Even with Stephen Curry in foul trouble, the Warriors overwhelmed. Draymond Green, most notably. Green finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists and punished the Cavs from outside.
Green was told the other day that it seemed like Cleveland’s strategy was to let him shoot from deep.
“Yeah, that’s what I’m seeing too,” Green had responded, before adding, “I’m never going to be gun shy.”
On Sunday, the Cavs again dared the big man to fire away, and he made them pay, hitting 5-of-8.
Green didn’t seem too impressed.
“We defended homecourt. We didn’t do anything special,” he said.
Maybe the Cavs agreed. Afterward, Cleveland players weren’t hanging their heads, looking defeated. There was more an air of anger and frustration.
“You’re pissed off that we lost, but it’s the way we lost the game. We didn’t compete,” said Tristan Thompson.
“We’ve got to look in the mirror and know that we’re going back to Cleveland and we have to have a better performance than that.
“We have to come out with energy. We had no energy tonight.”
Nothing went Cleveland’s way. James got called for consecutive travels at one point, the first time anybody can remember that happening, Thompson was the team’s leading scorer nearly halfway through the second quarter and had outscored Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on his own and Love ended up undergoing the league’s concussion protocol after taking a shot to the head.
“They beat us pretty good tonight,” James understated.
“What we’ve done these last two games doesn’t put a damper or a cloud over how we got to this point. We’re still here and we have a chance to turn this series around if we come in and do what we need to do both offensively and defensively,” he said.
“We have to figure out how we can help one another. We definitely have to figure out how we can get more guys involved. Fifteen assists, it’s not winning basketball, especially versus this team. We’ve just got to figure it out. Coaching staff will give us a game plan, and it’s up to us to go out and execute it.”
Warriors centre Andrew Bogut set the tone early with four blocks in the first quarter as he and Green and Harrison Barnes destroyed Cleveland’s frontcourt and eventually, Curry and Klay Thompson found their footing and buried some shots.
Curry finished with 18 points, Thompson 17. Andre Iguodala was much quieter, but Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa were again effective off of the bench.
Meanwhile, James missed his first five shots, seeing multiple defenders thrown at him on many possessions. Love and Irving were off and J.R. Smith could neither shoot, nor pay enough attention to cutting Warriors players to offer any deterrence.
James led the Cavs with 19 points, nobody else scored more than 12.
It was ugly, as the Warriors went on some savage runs, including a 20-2 burst at one point and blew the visitors out of the water.
This is actually the first 2-0 Finals lead since the Lakers in 2009 and there has not been a Finals sweep since James and the Cavs were easily dispatched by San Antonio in 2007.
This Cleveland squad will seems a lot better equipped to hang around for at least a bit longer, judging by its 7-0 record at home in these playoffs.
On Wednesday, we’ll see just how mighty the Ohio homecourt advantage really is.
It’s going to be a long two days to think about their current predicament for these Cavs though and Love’s status moving forward is unclear.
The team said he experienced dizziness after returning to the court after the hit, but not before then.
Love took a shot to the head. Meanwhile, his teammates were battered everywhere.
The heavyweight champs aren’t about to surrender their belt. The only question left is how many rounds it will take to send the Cavs crashing to the canvas once more.