Going into Game 2, the Cavaliers needed to fix some things. They needed to stop Golden State’s fast break offense, figure out to score some points, and try to contain Kevin Durant.
One out of three doesn’t cut it against the Warriors.
Durant was held relatively in-check in the first half when Iman Shumpert was forced into the game for defensive purposes, but it wasn’t enough. Golden State ran away with the game in the 2nd half, winning by a staggering score of 132-113.
The 113 points was a notable accomplishment for the Cavs, but the Cavaliers were just 8-29 on three-pointers.
By most accounts, the Cleveland Cavaliers played a solid first quarter on defense. They forced eight turnovers, pushed the Warriors to take tough shots, and contested for rebounds. They allowed 40 points.
Some of those 40 points came off of iffy refereeing (the rule about shooting fouls and how guys just launch from 48 feet when they feel contact is a rule. It sucks, but it’s a rule), some came on Klay Thompson finally making shots, and the fastbreak wasn’t the same weapon it was in game one. But it was still 40 points.
Even so, the Cavs stayed competitive, trailing by six after the first. The Warriors reached 50 points about 3:30 into the second quarter, but Cleveland just kept hanging around. Klay Thompson played great defense on Kyrie Irving, but LeBron James refused to stop scoring. He and Kevin Love combined for 33 points in the first half.
Iman Shumpert stepped in to stop Kevin Durant and it actually sort of worked in the first half. Shump was a huge part of the Cavaliers’ second quarter slow-down of the Warriors, keeping Durant from blowing up and scoring six points in the process.
Klay became a story in his own right - making a jumper early, followed by a three, and before you knew it, Thompson was in double-digits.
At the break, it was Warriors 67, Cavaliers 64.
Coming out in the third, the Cavs looked like they were in trouble. Golden State started scoring like they always do, Stephen Curry got an offensive rebound while Tristan Thompson was in the game, and JR Smith picked up his fourth foul in the midst of another complete no-show.
But LeBron James.
LeBron managed to score, rebound, and throw mind-blowing passes to keep the Cavs in the game. He is impossible. He is, without question, the best basketball player I have ever seen. After Golden State extended the lead to double-digits, LeBron pulled it back to four. He was one rebound away from a triple-double halfway through the third.
But, you know, Golden State is pretty good at basketball too, and in a heartbeat, the lead was 10 again. By the end of the third, it was 102-88.
Early in the 4th quarter a, sideline shot showed Steph Curry with a towel over his head, looking like he was ready for a nap. It hit a little too close to home for Cavs fans. The combination of Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant - then later, Stephen Curry - was just overwhelming for Cleveland. A late run pushed the lead over 20 on multiple occasions, and the Cavs pulled their starters with a few minutes to play.
Kyrie Irving is still struggling for the Cavaliers, going just 8-23 from the field and scoring 19 points. LeBron ended with 29/11/14 and three steals. Kevin Love scored 27. It wasn’t even close to enough.
Last year the Cavaliers trailed 2-0, even losing those two by more than these two games, but this year feels different. The Warriors are complete monsters. The 73 win team from last year added a guy who won the MVP three years ago by being a monstrous offensive player... and then he had five blocks and three steals.
It’s a heck of a road for the Cavaliers at this point, but after last year, it’s hard to rule anything out.