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05 Jun 2018

Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers: Lineups, preview & prediction 6/6/18

While there was no visible hangover from their disheartening Game 1 overtime loss, the Cavaliers failed to keep up with the Warriors on Sunday night in losing 122-103. LeBron James had another all-around excellent effort as he finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 29 points and 13 assists, but he got little help beyond Kevin Love and George Hill.

Love had 22 points and ten rebounds for his second double-double of the finals and Hill chipped in 15 points, but the 3-point shooters Cleveland have been counting on to make a difference in this series, or at this point at least keep it competitive, failed to deliver. J. R. Smith, Jeff Green and Kyle Korver were a combined one of seven from deep as the Cavaliers finished with as many made 3-pointers (nine) as Stephen Curry did.

Cleveland finished sixth in the regular season in 3-point shooting percentage (37.2), but that outside touch has deserted them of late. The Cavaliers are connecting at just 30.2 percent over their last six contests and have failed to make more than ten in any of those contests. Unsurprisingly, James has excelled in this area too, hitting 15 of 36 (41.7 percent) of his 3-point shots while his teammates have made 39 of 143 (27.3 percent).

Still, being down 2-0 is far from a death knell to James and the Cavaliers, who overturned that deficit in the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. And the Warriors are all too aware of another such occasion James rallied his team from a 2-0 deficit, doing so in the 2016 NBA Finals as Cleveland also dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole by winning the series in seven games.

The Cavaliers also have won eight straight playoff games at Quicken Loans Arena after being dealt a loss by Indiana in Game 1 of their first-round series. They have averaged 109.0 points on 39.1 percent shooting from 3-point range while holding opponents to 97.0 points per game and 33.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc in that winning streak.

While the 33 points were two off Curry's high this postseason, the nine 3-pointers set an NBA Finals record. Golden State's offense, even without facilitator Andre Iguodala, fired on all cylinders as they shot a postseason-high 57.3 percent overall. Kevin Durant chipped in 26 points while making ten of 14 shots, and the Warriors got stellar production from their role players as JaVale McGee and Shaun Livingston combined for 22 points while hitting all 11 of their shots.

Steve Kerr's team has shot 54.1 percent in the first two games of this series and have racked up 59 assists to only 20 turnovers, with Curry, Durant and Draymond Green accounting for 46 of those assists. The Warriors are 7-0 when shooting 50 percent or better this postseason and 12-0 when recording 25 or more assists.

While Iguodala is closer to returning after missing the last six games with a lateral leg contusion suffered in a collision with James Harden in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, there has been no definitive status on his availability offered. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP was able to work out pain-free on his own Saturday and reportedly sprinted for the first time since suffering the injury.

The series will remain in Cleveland for Game 4 on Friday, with those games the only contests with one day of rest between them.