The Golden State Warriors departed Northern California to Cleveland two up over the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, the last of the seven scheduled pro games of this season.
Game 1 was solely won by luck. Game 2 was a definitive victory that defined exactly who the Warriors are, who they can be and who they’ve been.
Game 3, last night (Wednesday) and Game 4 Friday, both on the Cavs’ home court, will determine just who Cleveland is and how many more games will be left to play.
Forget about the J.R. Smith blunder at the end of Game 1, but note that not enough attention was given to the potential injury that he could have caused Klay Thompson that took the Golden State marksman out of the game with approximately 6:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Smith fell into Thompson, submarined him, causing his leg to buckle painfully underneath him, sending him limping to the locker room for treatment to his ankle—a major scare for the Warriors. It could have sidelined him alongside Andre Iguodala, who hasn’t been able to play the past six playoff games because of a leg contusion. He was finally upgraded to questionable for Game 3.
Thompson rejoined the team in the second quarter, totaling 24 points in the game, one that the Warriors were very close to losing—another scare, two in one night, their wake-up call.
Golden State’s lackluster play, their mistakes during Game 1 and a 124-114 overtime win were a reminder of why the Indiana Pacers, the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics are watching these NBA Finals at home. They allowed LeBron James to score. They didn’t defend. James shot 19-for-32 in the Finals’ opener, knocking down 51 total points.
Although James has been hard to stop, the Warriors were able to lower his overall scoring and number of shots taken in Game 2 to 10-for-20, 29 points for the night.
Offensively, Golden State was much more aggressive, assertive and efficient overall in Game 2 than in Game 1, taking fewer shots and hitting more of them—46-for-90 in the first and 47-for-82 in the second.
Leading the way was Stephen Curry’s huge shots from three. Nine exactly, breaking the NBA Finals record of eight set by Ray Allen (Boston Celtics) in 2010.
Curry, a two-time MVP, finished Sunday night with 33 points, 27 from 3-point range, several of them quite amazing, 8 assists and 7 rebounds to put the Warriors two up in the championship series.
“He’s a big shot taker, big shot maker,” said Draymond Green. There were two specifically, in the fourth quarter, both on the Cavs’ Kevin Love, the second resulting into a 4-point play. “He takes a game over with his shot-making ability,” stated Green.
“He just threw it up,” said Thompson about Curry’s first three against Love, a sensational off-balance jumper from several feet behind the 3-point line as the shot clock was winding down—swish, all net. “I didn’t think it had any chance of going in.”
Thompson, whose ability to play Sunday was questionable because of the damage done by Smith Thursday, Game 1, still knocked down 24, and then 20 in Game 2 (Sunday), major contributions despite his injury.
Also complimentary to Thompson, Green said, “One of the toughest, if not the toughest.”
If the series goes to at least five games, the Warriors and Cavs return back to Golden State Monday. Game 6 is scheduled for next Thursday in Cleveland, if necessary.