The Golden State Warriors provided another balanced and dominant effort throughout their 110-77 blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night from Oakland. Cleveland’s bench and supporting cast was better than in Game 1, but still managed to get outscored, 40-30, by the depth Golden State has in the rotation.
Game 2 started as the hotly contested matchup many of us expected, as the Cavaliers responded to their series opening loss with the type of energy and effort that actually led to as much as a six-point lead at one point early in the second quarter.
Draymond Green’s three-pointer (18 first-half points) gave the Warriors a 37-30 lead at the 7:28 mark of the second quarter, as Golden State used a 33-16 run to seize control of the game. Stephen Curry’s short jumper pushed Golden State’s lead to nine just a few possessions later. Curry and Klay Thompson then hit back-to-back three pointers around the three-minute mark to extend the lead to 48-35.
LeBron James, sensing the urgency of the moment, really went into attack mode down the stretch of the second in an effort to keep the Cavaliers within range. James scored eight points over the final five minutes of the quarter and pulled Cleveland to within a 52-44 deficit heading into the half.
Cleveland’s bench actually matched Golden State’s reserves in terms of first-half production in Game 2, but the Warriors’ defensive intensity helped limit Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and James to a combined 10-31 from the field over the first two quarters. In fact, the streak-shooting Smith was just 2-8 from the field with just six points, two assists and a rebound through the first six quarters of the Finals.
The two teams exchanged a couple buckets over the first few minutes of the second half, but Curry’s fourth foul came at the 8:42 mark and left the Warriors in a bit of a predicament. Smith’s drive and finish cut the lead to seven, but Green’s fourth three-pointer of the game pushed the lead back to double-digits. Thompson’s three from the wing in transition was sandwiched by two Leandro Barbosa layups and Golden State was able to maintain control of the action even in Curry’s absence. Love missed the bulk of the second half due to concerns over a potential concussion as a result from a play toward the end of the second quarter. He was ruled out and will now enter the NBA’s concussion protocol.
James was called for traveling on consecutive plays around the five-minute mark, but then responded with one of his patented drives and finishes past the pressure of Iguodala. Richard Jefferson (12 points and five rebounds on the night) scored on a put-back with just over 3:15 left in the third and really seemed to provide some much-needed energy for the Cavaliers in Love’s absence.
Green’s find of a cutting Thompson for a conventional three-point play extended Golden State’s lead to 79-59. James was able to respond with a three of his own, but Thompson came right back with a long ball from the top of the arc and the Warriors went into the fourth quarter with an 82-62 lead.
Curry reintroduced himself to the action right at the start of the fourth with a 28-foot bomb to open the quarter’s scoring for either team. Barbosa’s back-to-back drives then extended the lead to 27 forcing the Cavaliers to call timeout to regroup less than two minutes into the quarter.
Barbosa is 10-12 from the field in the series for the Warriors. Andrew Bogut’s overall contributions may not always appear as obvious in the box score, but his defensive presence has been key in terms of limiting Cleveland’s effectiveness in the paint in this series. Bogut had five blocks in Game 2. The Warriors eventually took the game, 110-77, and now hold a 2-0 lead in a series where Curry has a total of 29 points. Green scored 28 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists in leading Golden State on the night.
James did have 19 points (7-17 from the field), nine assists and eight rebounds, but was never able to assert himself outside of a quick spurt to end the first half. His seven turnovers also led the Cavs. Irving simply hasn’t been effective in this series. He’s 12-36 from the floor (1-7 from deep) and has a total of just five assists and six rebounds in 71 minutes of action. J.R. Smith has just eight points on 3-9 from the floor so far in the series. Prior to these Finals, Smith had provided double-figure scoring in seven games during this playoff run.
The Warriors also won the rebound battle (46-34) and dished out more assists (26-15). The Cavaliers swiped 15 steals compared to just seven for the Warriors, but lost the war in the paint (50-40) and really struggled from the field (28-79, 35.4 percent) against a stingy Golden State defense.
Game 3 Prediction: The old, and often overused, adage of “it isn’t a series until a road team wins” may sound good when you’re facing an 0-2 deficit and heading home, but the Cavaliers now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to beat the Warriors four times over the next five games. Expect them to play like their season absolutely depends upon Game 3 – as it realistically does – and anticipate a herculean effort from James as the Cavs finally scratch in these Finals.
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