Game 2 of these finals could possibly be seen as a must win game for Cleveland. Given that the teams that fall behind two games to nothing in the NBA Finals have a record of 3-28, stealing one in Oakland is rather imperative for this Cavs squad. After squandering what was most likely their best chance to do so in Game 1, with Steph and Klay having their worst combined game of the season, they would need to make some adjustments for game 2 in order to bring those hopes to fruition. They can’t exactly bank on the possibility of the Splash Brothers having a repeat performance of Game 1, so they really needed to step up their all-around defense, and hit their own shots as well.
Golden State was hoping to make some improvements of their own. Mainly Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson needing to join the party with the bench. After an extremely uncharacteristic Game 1 performance they would need to step up a bit more in Game 2 knowing that Cleveland was going to make some adjustments after their struggles in Game 1. Game 2 had another relatively slow start to it. The Cavs jumped out to an early four-point lead, and the Warriors didn’t get their first points of the game until 2:38 in on a Draymond Green jump hook. The Splash Brothers had another slow start themselves as well. Curry hit his first three of the game at the 5:28 mark of the 1st quarter to give the Warriors their first lead, 11-10, but made just one other layup after that while Klay Thompson was held scoreless.
After Curry’s three put the Warriors up one J.R. Smith hit a three of his own to put Cleveland back up by two. J.R. Smith is a guy that the Cavs were really hoping to get going at some point. When he’s hot, he can hit shots from virtually anywhere on the floor at an insane rate, and they are really going to need a few of those performances if they’re going to win any games this series. After going 1 for 3 in Game 1 and not attempting a single shot in the 1st quarter, he hit his first three in the 1st in this game which Cleveland was hoping would be a good sign. That three turned out to be a singular event in a 1st quarter in which Cleveland ended on an 8-4 run to give the Cavs a 21-19 lead heading into the 2nd without LeBron James getting a single point.
In a 1st quarter, featuring little offense to get the crowd going, it was Andrew Bogut who electrified the Oracle faithful. He had four blocks in the first eight minutes all on different players, including an emphatic one on LeBron James. Draymond Green opened the 2nd quarter with a three-pointer to give the Warriors a one-point lead and gave the crowd something to roar about. But following that point, Cleveland would go on a 7-0 run, with Lebron getting his first points of the game causing Steve Kerr to call a time out for Golden State. After the timeout the Warriors came out absolutely rolling and firing on all cylinders. Right out of the time out they went on a 9-0 run. It was kicked off by a Klay Thompson’s first made basket, a three. The run was interrupted by two LeBron James free throws, but followed by an 11-0 run to combine for an overall 20-2 run over the course of just under five minutes.
Throughout the run, it was Draymond Green supplying the firepower. He was 3 for 3 on three-pointers and was leading all scorers by halftime with 18 points, and 12 in the 2nd quarter alone. After starting the quarter down by two they would lead by as much as 15. With the Warriors looking to take the last shot of the half, up by nine, a sloppy pass resulted in a turnover giving Jefferson an opportunity for an open layup. He was fouled in the attempt and made one of the free throws to enter halftime with just an eight-point deficit.
A scary moment for the Cavs came in the 2nd quarter when Kevin Love was hit in the back of the head with a Harrison Barnes elbow on a rebound attempt. He would initially stay in the game, but would later take himself out feeling some dizziness. After a slow, 0 for 5, 1st quarter start LeBron James came out with a seemingly takeover mind state when they fell into a deep hole. In the 2nd quarter LeBron was 5 of 7 with 14 points. By halftime Curry had already eclipsed his Game 1 total of 11 points by scoring 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting, and 2 of 6 from three adding 7 rebounds. Klay Thompson was also 2 of 6 from three, but had just 8 points. Draymond Green was leading the way from deep for this three point shooting machine going 3 of 6 from three, 7 of 13 total on the way to his game-leading total of 18 points at the half.
LeBron received very little help from his Big 3 co-cast getting just 5 points from Love and 4 from Irving. The second half had a somewhat slow start to it as nobody scored for a minute and a half until Kyrie Irving got a bucket to close the lead to 6. Following Irving scoring the first points of the half Stephen Curry hit a three, his third, which kicked off a five minute period in which Golden State outscored Cleveland 17-7 pushing the lead up to 16. With Stephen Curry committing his 4th foul of the game just a couple minutes into the 3rd quarter he had to be taken out. Despite Curry’s departure Golden State was +10 in the quarter with Curry off the floor. Cleveland would fight back and trade baskets for a couple minutes, but Golden State reeled off another run, 9-2, before LeBron James and Klay Thompson would trade threes to end the quarter; Golden State’s lead having been pushed to 20, 82-62. The Warriors starters came on the floor to start the 4th quarter hoping to close the game out early.
Curry hit a three to start the quarter, and also started, yet another, run for Golden State in which they delivered nine unanswered points. The unanswered period was ended by a Mosgov dunk, but was ultimately just part of a six minute stretch to start the 4th quarter in which Golden State outscored Cleveland 15-2 to push the Warriors’ lead to 33. With the rest of the game being a mere formality the bench squad came in, for both teams, to finish the game. From there both teams would match each other in points for the final six minutes, the final score being 110-77, a 33 point victory for Golden State. Stephen Curry came out with a much more encouraging performance for the Warriors before they head to Cleveland going 7 for 11 from the field. All misses came from deep, 4 of 8, as he finished with 18 points in 25 minutes adding 9 rebounds. Klay Thompson also had a better showing going 6 of 13 from the field, and 4 of 8 from deep for 17 points. It was Draymond Green who was the star of this game going 11 for 20 from the field, 5 of 8 from deep with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. LeBron James shot 7 of 17 from the field for 19 points with 8 rebounds and 9 assists. The most help he got from anyone was Richard Jefferson with 12 points. Kyrie Irving had just 10, and only 5 from Mosgov. But it’s not like nobody else is showing up.
Golden State is just playing to their full potential on the defensive end holding Cleveland to 28 of 79 shooting (35%), and just 5 of 23 from three. With the skillset of Cleveland’s players it seems that they have to decide between offensive guys or defensive guys. The Warriors have a skilled set of guys who are highly able to perform on both ends of the floor. Cleveland consistently looks outmatched and ill equipped to combat a, seemingly, much superior Warriors team. The Warriors ball movement (26 assists), and scoring ability (44/ 81- 54%, 15/33 -45% from three) leaves it looking like there isn’t anything Cleveland can do to slow this team down. With Cleveland down two games to nothing, a lone source of hope has to come from flying back home where they are undefeated thus far in the playoffs. Three out of 31 teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit in the finals, and if Cleveland hopes to be one of those teams they are going to have to make some drastic changes to the way they handle Golden State.