NBA Finals: G2 - Sometimes, Your Best is Just Not Enough
The Golden State Warriors seized a 2-0 NBA Finals lead Sunday night with a 132-113 drubbing of the Cavaliers despite an inspired performance from LeBron James.
James did his best to keep Cleveland in the game, tying Magic Johnson's record with his eighth NBA Finals triple-double by the end of the third quarter and finishing with a 29-14-11 night. He dominated the game for moments with violent transition dunks and near-perfect defense, but his individual dominance was not nearly enough.
No individual performance could overcome the collective night the Warriors stars shared. That is not to say James’ supporting cast did not come to play. Kevin Love scored 27 points, Kyrie Irving had 19 and the Cavs’ bench tried their best to look less lifeless on offense than in Game 1. There are some positive performances to take away from this game, but it is hard to think positively when you give up 132 points.
Though Cleveland brought more intensity on the defensive end, it seemed they could do nothing to stop the Warriors stars from putting forth another masterpiece. Kevin Durant scored 33 points snagged 13 rebounds and made his presence felt on defense with five blocks, while Chef Curry got cooking from long-distance and finished with a triple-double. Klay Thompson even found his shooting form in this one after a prolonged playoff shooting slump, with 22 points on 8-12 shooting.
This triumvirate combined for 87 of the Warriors' 132 points, but the offensive output would have been even greater had Golden State been less careless with the ball. After turning the ball over only four times in Game 1, Golden State had 13 of their 20 turnovers in the first half – which was basically the only reason Cleveland had a sliver of a chance in this game.
Any inkling of said chance evaporated mid-way through the third quarter when a three and a half minute Cleveland scoring drought coincided with a huge run for the Dubs. After making some halftime adjustments, Golden State was much more careful with the ball in the second half and it showed. The Warriors found ways to get their stars wide open and capitalized any time the Cavs made a mistake in transition.
Simply put, you have to play perfect basketball to beat the Warriors when they are hot.
Cleveland must figure out a way to chase the Warriors off the three-point line in order to avoid giving up endless wide-open looks. They should know by now that they cannot just sit back and let this trio of legendary three-point shooters make it rain from deep.
Frustrated with his team’s overall inability to keep up with Golden State throughout the game, James snapped at his teammates multiple times and looked furious when the Cavs threw up the white flag and sat him with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
His frustration seemed to get the better of him as his dominance waned late in the game. He tried his best to go shot-for-shot with Durant and Curry, but ended up bricking nearly every one.
Heading into Game 3 in Cleveland, James and his team need to do everything they can to refocus on the task at hand. No team has EVER* come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the NBA playoffs, making Game 3 a must-win.
*Editor's Note: Last year, the Cavs were the first team in the history of the NBA Finals to overcome a 3-1 deficit and win the series. No team in the history of the playoffs as a whole, has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win ANY series.