Cavs Drop Game 2 To Warriors: Behind the Box Score

Golden State Warriors – 132
Cleveland Cavaliers – 113
[Box Score]

The Cavaliers did better than their Game 1 performance. Better wasn’t good enough. The question that lingers after a 132-113 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals is if even the Cavs’ best would be enough.

It felt like the wine and gold were constantly trying to close a 10-point gap. After opening the first quarter on a roll, they found themselves down 10 with five minutes still to go in the first quarter, but closed it to six to end the period. LeBron James and Kevin Love scored the Cavs’ first 13 points, forcing the ball inside and getting to the rim. James was especially fantastic, dishing out five assists in the first 12 minutes. But the Cavaliers also struggled again with turnovers, punctuated by Kyrie Irving losing a behind-the-back pass to Tristan Thompson that led to a Golden State fast break. Warriors star Stephen Curry shot ten free throws in the first, making it difficult for the Cavaliers to get much going. He was initiating contact at the rim and had a flailing shot attempt as Richard Jefferson looked to foul him in transition, resulting in three shots from the charity stripe.

The second quarter didn’t open well, as the Cavaliers trotted out a lineup of Irving, Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye. That lineup quickly gave up any ground that was closed to end the first, with the Warriors extending their lead to 12 early in the second quarter. But again, the Cavaliers were able to cut the lead back to one, finally finding a few answers. Iman Shumpert’s defense, especially against Kevin Durant, gave James a rest and let him roam more to create turnovers.

With Thompson struggling, Love logged more time at center, ending the half with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The Cavaliers went into halftime down only three and having forced 13 turnovers while shooting only 25 percent from long distance. It looked like they had maybe found a rhythm and a few tweaks that allowed them to play with Golden State’s machine.

But Golden State again jumped on the Cavs in the third quarter, extending the lead to eleven early. James and the small-ball lineup got within four, but the offense sputtered, going over three minutes without scoring, and the Warriors pounced, extending the lead back to sixteen. When No. 23 went to the bench for a breather near the end of the third quarter, he looked exhausted and a bit defeated.

Things unraveled in the fourth quarter, as Durant and Curry exploded, draining threes and having their way with the Cavaliers’ defense. At one point Curry in the competitive time of the game, Curry was shown on the sidelines with a towel over his head not even watching the game. After sipping beer from the sideline and spinning the ball in Serge Ibaka’s face, it was the Cavaliers turn to be disrespected. Much like their own opponents earlier in the postseason, the Cavaliers had no answer.

James was fantastic. His 29 points on 18 shots to go along with 14 assists, 11 rebounds, three steals, and one block kept the Cavaliers in the game for the most part. He was getting to the rim and converting, even through contact. As has been the case so many times, it often felt like he put the team on his back, and it simply wasn’t enough. Love was fantastic, as well. He followed his 21 rebounds in Game 1 by scoring 27 points in Game 2. Coming into the series it was assumed that Love’ defense would keep him off the court. Instead, Love was one of the few bright spots, and his time at center was a wrinkle that seemed to open things up for the offense.

Meanwhile, Thompson and Kyrie Irving struggled again. Thompson played only 21 minutes after 22 in Game One. He has totaled eight rebounds combined over two games after averaging more than nine boards per contest in the regular season. Normally the Cavaliers’ last line of defense, Thompson has struggled all series, and it’s hard to see them winning if he can’t find his game. If his draft partner Irving can’t find his game, it is completely impossible to see the Cavaliers pulling off a comeback. Irving couldn’t find his shot all game, missing shots he normally makes around the rim and struggling to create the types of open looks that make him so deadly. Cleveland needs him to get going if they want to have any hope at winning this series.

Let’s wipe away the tears and look behind the box score:

1 – Games Steve Kerr has been able to coach this series, returning to the bench for Game Two. Kerr is widely considered one of the best people in the NBA and it was awesome to see him back on the sidelines.

8 – Triple doubles for LeBron James in the NBA Finals, tying the record set by Magic Johnson.

9 – Turnovers for the Cavs after 20 in Game One.

17 – Percentage from three for the non-Big 3 (James, Irving, Love) members of the Cavs during the competitive portion of the game.

65 – Combined points for Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. The Cavs just don’t have an answer for the two former MVPs.

22 – Points for Klay Thompson. You know, that historically-amazing shooter that plays next to the two former MVPs? Oh, we haven’t even mentioned the likely Defensive Player of the Year in Draymond Green.

0 – Questions LeBron James answered from the podium. He decided to answer questions from the locker room.

When asked about it, James said he had a reason, and it wasn’t about wins and losses. So if you were wondering what the hot take was gonna be after James dropped a triple double? Here you go. Let’s hope the Cavs bring the heat as they return home Wednesday night for Game 3.

  • Steve

    Irving for Paul.

  • JNeids

    Just win one at home, please. Don’t let them sweep.
    Yes, that’s where I am now. The team that we were all of 4 points better than last season added a 30 ppg scoring threat. I know it’s not that simple, and yet, sometimes it is.
    A few years from now, nobody will remember that the Warriors didn’t beat a team at full strength once during this three year stretch. They will remember that they blew a 3-1 lead after winning a record 73 games with the first ever unanimous MVP, even if they win this year and next. Don’t let them add 16-0 to their list.
    I still love, respect, and appreciate the hell outta the Cavs. But sometimes you run into Jordan in his prime, and sometimes you run into the second best team who somehow manages to add the second best player. I’ll sleep happy with my 2016 replica ring.

  • JNeids

    Oh, and since I’m opening up myself to some criticism, I might as well go all in.

    The refs last night were a joke. That team doesn’t need help, and yet they constantly got it. Curry’s half court 3 FTs were the result of a joke of a rule that hopefully gets changed this offseason so I can’t fault the refs for that one. But the other 3 pointer that JR supposedly fouled him on? Please. JR was whistled for another phantom call at the beginning of the second half when Pachulia grabbed his arm when JR was fighting around a screen…AND JR gets called for the foul and 4 point play. Curry goes to the line TEN EFFING TIMES in the first quarter and Kyrie can’t buy a FT? Klay literally shoving JR backwards across the floor like an O-lineman? David West’s foul on Lebron that should have been a flagrant (made zero attempt at the ball, and if it’s anyone not named Lebron, they take a bad fall backwards) Pretty much anytime Curry went to the floor, a ref blew his whistle assuming a crime had been committed.

    Speaking of crimes, pretty sure Draymond could slap a ref’s momma in front of said ref and still wouldn’t get called for a T. I’ve never seen a more petulant person blatantly show up an official and get away with it more than him. Someone on the Tweeter last night said it best – his reputation for getting away with bitching about calls has somehow INCREASED HIS ABILITY TO GET AWAY WITH BITCHING ABOUT CALLS.

    Anytime we got the game to within a bucket or two, one of two things happened: 1) they would drain two quick 3s while stopping us on D to get the lead back to ~10, or 2) a garbage call would completely swing momentum back the other way.

    Have at me. I honestly don’t care.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Paul George, Chris Paul, Paul the Apostle, don’t matter; none of them are getting past this Warriors team.

    …but look on the up side. It took the Warriors loading up on this much talent to feel secure enough to get past LeBron.

  • JNeids

    That’s a VERY thin silver lining.

  • jpftribe

    Travels aren’t travels, flagrant isn’t a flagrant, hand checks aren’t hand checks, until they are and fouls at half court get 3 free throws. Arbitrary calls are “stupid fouls”.

    It wouldn’t have mattered and I expect it will shift in the Cavs favor at home, but it’s just not credible.

  • Harv

    Didn’t lose a bit o’sleep over this. The Finals uncover some hard truths:

    – If Kyrie doesn’t excel the Cavs probably can’t win a single game, never mind the series. Klay seems way in his head on defense, and knows it. It’s on Ky, right now. When you’re a geezer memories of Game 3 will either warm you or haunt you, Kyrie. It’s Wednesday, or never.

    – The Finals mercilessly expose the respective desire of each team. When one uber-talented team is playing like, well, it’s the Final Four and the other uber-talented team thinks advocating with refs is appropriate when your man is streaking down court, the result is inevitable. Yo Cavs, the home crowd influences even the best refs. Pick your opponent wisely.

    – The Cavs are, in my mind, foolishly trying to run at Pamplona. No one in the league has the personnel to do this, and LeBron was fried by the third quarter. Not sure anything will work when Durant’s riding a two-game surge of confidence but the Cavs have abandoned the secret sauce that worked last year: muck up the free-flow and get physical, make the Warriors think. This is the first time all year I’ve missed Delly, who could really break their concentration. J.R.’s brain-dead attempts to get physical just make the Warriors laugh as they head to the free throw line.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Sorry, best I can do at current.

    For the first half I was grasping at the “well we’re only down X and Kyrie has been a ghost, so if he can come alive…” optimism, then GSW went on a 19-9 run to open the 3rd.

  • Eric G

    I’ll share my salt here the way I did on social media last night (and it’s nowhere near a hot take): All it took for the 73 win Warriors to win it all was adding a top 3 player in the league. Good for them.

    Am I bitter? You bet I am. Was I bitter at this point last year? You bet I was. Did I eat crow after writing them off last year? Delightfully. Will I again this year? Even more delightfully.

  • JNeids

    Not your fault – it’s the ONLY silver lining, it just happens to be thin as a c-hair.
    If we only end up winning one title with Lebron, years from now, someone saying “Lebron was SO good that other superstars had to team up just to beat him” isn’t gonna make us feel any better.

  • Steve

    We felt pretty much the opposite of this about a week ago, and those smart guys in Vegas gave us a 30% chance. Definite underdogs, but definitely with a puncher’s chance. A little more perimeter defense, and a little more actually running an offense instead of dribbling around aimlessly after the Warriors snuff out our telegraphed “screen Curry” play over and over again, and I think we make up a lot of ground.

  • chrisdottcomm

    I have always been of the mindset that it was possible to feel the Warriors were the supreme favorite (deservedly so) and that the Cavs have a confidence in playing them (giving them that puncher’s chance).

    My starting points for rest of the series for that puncher’s chance:

    1. Slow the offense down to a halt. Use up 20 of 24 seconds on that clock instead of 4.
    2. LeBron/Love attack hard inside to try and draw the early fouls on Dray/KD

    My prayers for puncher’s chance:
    1. Kyrie goes supernova. I really thought we had a chance to steal last night if Kyrie would have really went off. We were down 3 at the half with him shooting something like 30%.

  • Noah.caldwell

    As soon as they let the cavs plays defense about curry they will be able to win a game, he just falls and flops around and the cavs get called for terrible touch fouls, as soon as they let the cavs play like they have let the warriors play I think they will be able to win games

  • Noah.caldwell

    I completely agree, I thought that if u swear and show up the refs you get a tech, it’s crazy how the NBA refuses to enforce that rule on draymond, and also the illegal screens are driving me fucking crazy, grabbing someone and moving with them is not a screen, shoving someone is not a screen, a moving box out is not a screen, I feel like these are basic calls to make it’s so obvious, I haven’t seen another team besides the warriors get away with so much horseshit

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  • Harv