The Golden State Warriors take a 2-0 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals thanks to Steph Curry’s big night.
The Cleveland Cavaliers tried to put Game 1 behind them. The Golden State Warriors jumped out to a 15-6 lead and it looked like this one would be curtains early. But, to the Cavs credit, they battled back to be within six points after the first quarter.
The mental toughness of the Cavaliers cannot be questioned after Game 2. They battled all night. It still resulted in a 122-103 loss. LeBron James finished with 29 points, 13 ssists, and eight rebounds. Pedestrian numbers by his impossibly high standards. George Hill and Kevin Love gave him just enough help. They’d get the lead down to single digits to where you believe they’d have a chance.
It didn’t matter. Because, Warriors.
Every time the Cavaliers made a run, the Warriors answered with a Steph Curry 3. Some of them were ridiculously tough 3s that would be considered bad shots by any other player in the league. But there are no bad shots in Steph Curry’s world, just ones that don’t go in. As good as the Cavaliers offense looked at times, it wasn’t perfect. And with the Warriors offense firing on all cylinders, and the Cavaliers defense looking to be in regular season form, Cleveland needed their offense to be perfect.
It was a seven-point game after James nailed a 3 with 11 minutes remaining. Then, Steph happened. And when the Warriors put the ball in the hands of their best player, good things tend to happen.
Curry finished with 33 points, including a Finals record nine 3s. Plus, eight assists. Kevin Durant had an efficient 26 points on 14 shots, blending into the system instead of trying to be the system. Klay Thompson chipped in with 20 points.
Draymond Green had his typical quietly loud night with five points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. JaVale McGee, who drew the start in place of Kevon Looney, finished with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting. The ever-reliable Shaun Livingston went 5-of-5 for 10 points. If McGee and Livingston are going to outplay every Cavalier not named James and Love, we may as well skip to the draft night.
The final score doesn’t give Cleveland enough credit for how they played through the first three quarter. This was not a lopsided blowout where one team was clearly overmatched and did nothing right. Cleveland got shots and looks they wanted. They just had Jordan Clarkson (1-of-4, Jeff Green (2-of-7), and J.R. Smith (2-of-9) taking those shots. The game didn’t get out of hand until the fourth, when Curry took over and Cleveland clanked every wide open 3 LeBron found them for.
Of course, praising a team for playing hard is like praising a MMA fighter for getting knocked down three times but making it 25-minutes to lose a 50-42 decision. Yeah, he hung in there and showed a lot of heart. But he also got his butt-whooped.
Game 1 was Cleveland’s opportunity to steal a game on the road. A series of events so unfortunate that Lemony Snicket couldn’t even believe led to their demise. They somehow had to be better in Game 2 than they were in Game 1. They weren’t, and despite LeBron and company doing their best to hang around, the Warriors eventually engaged hyperdrive.
The Cavaliers now head back to Cleveland, down 0-2, and searching for answers when there might not be any. They can hope the rims at The Q are kinder and that a team filled with role players will get the “role players are better at home” boost. But the talent disparity between the two teams has been obvious through two games. Cleveland needs to play 48 flawless minutes, which includes a 50-point triple-double from LeBron. And even that may be just good enough to lose by three.