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Game 2 Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

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After nearly a week of no basketball action, the NBA returned for the much anticipated Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Finals matchup.

The only problem was that Game 1 looked like the same movie from just a year ago — a complete blowout.

The Warriors walked away with an 113-91 victory by way of complete domination from Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, who scored 38 and 28 points respectively. Curry added 10 assists, and Durant grabbed eight rebounds while also dishing eight assists of his own. Golden State was simply too much offensively for Cleveland.

Despite sloppy play and committing 11 turnovers to Golden State’s one in the first half, the Cavaliers found themselves down just 60-52 as they headed into halftime. But just as the Warriors have done all season, they kicked it into an extra gear and turned a close game into a blowout in minutes.

By the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, Golden State had a commanding 73-52 lead. The Cavaliers committed four turnovers and missed four straight shots to start the second half, giving the Warriors a window to extend their lead — an opportunity Golden State has capitalized on all postseason.

LeBron James was good, not great, during Game 1, scoring 28 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing eight assists, but also committing eight turnovers. Unfortunately for James, outside of Kyrie Irving’s 24 points, he didn’t get much help Thursday night in Oakland.

Key role players J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver, and Deron Williams were a combined 1-of-14 from the field in Game 1. Simply, the Cavaliers’ shot makers didn’t make their shots.

The Cavaliers can find solace in the fact that despite what looked to be an off shooting night for their team — 34.9 percent from the field — they still were able to hang around with Golden State shooting from beyond the arc. Cleveland hit 11 of their 31 three-point shots, Golden State hit 12 of their 33 (six of which came from Curry).

Along with their shooting from deep, Cleveland didn’t allow Klay Thompson (3-of-16 shooting) and Draymond Green (3-of-12 shooting) to develop any type of offensive rhythm. Although, on a night where Durant and Curry were pushing all the right buttons, that didn’t factor into the final outcome very heavily.

As both teams gear up for another familiar matchup when Game 2 rolls around at Oracle Arena, they’ll need to tighten up their game execution to ensure a more hotly contested basketball game.

For Cleveland, committing 20 turnovers to Golden State’s four will result in disaster presumably every time. The Warriors can score enough on their own accord, so giving them extra possessions is nearly a death sentence. Along with holding on to the ball, the Cavs need to hope for a higher level of efficiency when it comes to scoring that ball on Sunday. If the aforementioned role players, along with Kevin Love, hit just five shots combined, Game 2 will be over just as quickly as Game 1 was.

On the flip side, Golden State should strive for more of the same that they got in Game 1. Big nights from Durant and Curry will always be a mismatch for the Cavaliers. But for Golden State to ensure their effectiveness offensively, Thompson needs to find his groove. The struggles of Curry and Thompson in Finals past is well noted; while it looks like Curry has solved his big stage woes for the moment, Thompson is still a step behind. In order to not repeat their lead blowing ways from last summer, Golden State needs to get all three of their big-time shooters in a rhythm as early in this series as a possible.

Who wins Game 2?

Last year’s Finals saw the first two games go to Golden State, which outscored the Cavaliers by a combined 48 points through those two games. Yet, the series outcome ended with Cleveland as champions.

With Game 1 looking like a mirror image from last year, another clean sweep at Oracle to start the series looks very much in line.

However, should James get a bit more shooting help come Sunday afternoon, the Cavaliers have a legitimate shot to steal one on the road. Expect the series to be tied at one game apiece as both teams head back to Cleveland.

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About Dennis Chambers

Dennis Chambers

Dennis Chambers is an NBA writer in his first season with Basketball Insiders. Based out of Philadelphia he has previously covered NCAA basketball and high school recruiting.