The Golden State Warriors are two games away from a second straight NBA title. The Western Conference champions took a 2-0 series lead in the 2016 NBA Finals following a 110-77 Game 2 victory Sunday over the Cleveland Cavaliers at home in Oracle Arena.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Golden State's 33-point margin of victory is tied for seventh-most ever in NBA Finals history.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Warriors & Chef Curry cooked the Cavs tonight https://t.co/FOle3am5R12016-6-6 02:33:32
If it's possible, this was simultaneously an unimpressive yet dominant performance by the Warriors. Golden State committed 20 turnovers but shot 54.3 percent from the field as a team, including 15-of-33 from three-point range.
Between foul trouble and his team's massive second-half lead, Stephen Curry featured for just 25 minutes. He scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Klay Thompson added 17 points, and Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet with 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one steal.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers' Big Three couldn't have looked much worse. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined for 29 points on 12-of-31 shooting. Kevin Love finished with five points and three rebounds but only played 21 minutes.
In the second quarter, he caught an accidental elbow from Harrison Barnes to the back of his head:
Love continued to play for the remainder of the half and into the third quarter but removed himself from the game at the 9:53 mark of the third:
NBA.com's Steve Aschburner provided the official report about Love's injury:
Steve Aschburner @AschNBA
No mention of the elbow that inspired the dizziness but here's official Kevin Love report: https://t.co/V1P3uYT8Gt2016-6-6 02:16:29
Complex Sports tweeted that it was one more thing going wrong for LeBron and the Cavaliers:
Complex Sports @ComplexSports
Uh oh, now Kevin Love is hurt... https://t.co/hwKp6hFR7Q2016-6-6 00:57:18
Cleveland actually started the game well, despite James failing to score a single point in the first quarter. His team led 21-19 through the first 12 minutes, and the Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson thought it was a return to a strategy that served the Cavs well last year:
Marcus Thompson @ThompsonScribe
Cleveland shooting 34.9 percent and winning. Has this on pace to be a low-90s game. This is the right way, not speeding it up2016-6-6 00:37:06
In the 2015 NBA Finals, the Cavs were at their best when they slowed the game to a crawl and threw the Warriors out of their rhythm. Of course, the strategy still didn't result in an NBA title, but it's clear Cleveland can't afford to fight fire with fire and play at the Warriors' pace.
The lower the score, the better off the Cavaliers will be, so holding the Warriors to 19 points was a promising sign for the Eastern Conference champions.
They were unable to carry that over to the second quarter, as Golden State outscored Cleveland 33-23 to take a 52-44 halftime advantage. The Warriors did a great job of turning defense into offense. One instance came at the 9:37 mark of the quarter, when a steal by Green translated into a dunk for Shaun Livingston at the other end:
The Warriors' lead was as many as 15 points before the Cavs went on a 7-0 to close out the half and trim the deficit to single digits. ESPN.com's Zach Lowe saw a small sliver of hope for Cleveland:
Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA
Felt like it could have gotten away from Cavs there. Big end of Q run. GSW D has been outstanding. Run more PNRs vs Curry, set more flares.2016-6-6 01:28:12
Any hopes for a Cavaliers comeback effectively ended in the third quarter after Golden State went ahead by 20 points, 82-62. ESPN.com's Bill Barnwell wasn't all that upset with the development:
Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell
Warriors helping out East Coasters who don’t want to stay up late by ending this one by 10.2016-6-6 02:04:39
Cleveland looked lost defensively as the Warriors quickly moved the ball around the half court. Time and again, Cavs players pointed fingers after failing to properly switch on defense and leaving Golden State with an open shot. No possession more encapsulated the Warriors' dominance better than Thompson's three-pointer near the end of the third quarter:
Things weren't much better on the offensive end for Cleveland either. The Vertical's Chris Mannix highlighted the team's biggest problem:
Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS
It was true in Game 1, and it's true now: You are not going to beat Golden State with an isolation-heavy offense. It's not going to happen.2016-6-6 01:58:29
The Cavaliers survived for six games last year while playing a heavy amount of isolation with LeBron. The Warriors are even stronger this time around, though. James can't single-handedly win the series, and until Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue devises a better offense, his team doesn't stand much of a chance.
CBSSports.com's Matt Moore just doesn't see the Cavaliers finding a way to dethrone the reigning champions:
BuzzFeed's Lindsey Adler attempted to picture the reaction in Cleveland to how the NBA Finals are unfolding:
The series will shift to Quicken Loans Arena for the next two games. Game 3 on Wednesday is basically a must-win situation for the Cavs. The chances they can win four straight games after falling behind 3-0 in the series are slim to none.
As things stand now, something radical will need to happen for Cleveland to turn the Finals around. Winning both games at home and evening the series will be a start, but Game 2 illustrated the gulf in class between the Cavaliers and the Warriors.
James was succinct with his assessment of what the Cavs need to do to swing the series, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver: "We've got to be better in all facets of the game. Offensively, defensively, physically, mentally. We didn't win anything."
LeBron also discussed what he has to do individually to help his team, per NBA TV:
NBA TV @NBATV
Does LeBron think he has to take over more in order to be more successful in this series? https://t.co/1Vj7xhN1Ig2016-6-6 03:10:49
Lue talked about the reaction inside the Cleveland locker room immediately after the game:
NBA TV @NBATV
"The guys are not discouraged, more pissed than anything." -Coach Lue on the Cavs https://t.co/J3RBlTuH1a2016-6-6 03:04:49
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr knows that the series is far from over.
"We did our job. We won our two home games," he said, per the Warriors' official Twitter account. "There’s obviously a long way to go. We’re not celebrating."
Kerr also praised the work of Green, per the Warriors: "Draymond does everything for us. He’s always one of our most important players, and he had a heck of a game."
Thompson put he and his Warriors teammates on the same level as one of the NBA's greatest teams in history with a comment that was likely tongue-in-cheek.
"We are better than the 'Showtime' Lakers," Thompson said, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
Bresnahan noted Thompson's father, Mychal, was a member of those Los Angeles Lakers teams for a brief period.