We could have written about this last night, however, we wanted to make sure we really had a chance to take in the absolute beat down the Golden State Warriors gave the Cleveland Cavs in Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Different game, same result as the last time – the Cavs don’t have an answer for the Warriors’ style of play, their depth & their ability to move the ball up & down the court so quickly & effectively.
The final score of the game was 110-77. Yes, a 33-point win in an NBA Finals game, which is embarrassing in its own right. The 33 points is the largest amount of victory in the history of the NBA. The part that gets even worse is that the Cleveland Cavs seemed to have quit on the series, & effectively, quit on the season as there is such as hard road to get to four wins now to win an NBA Championship – meaning the Cavs have to completely change their game up & discover new magic in order to stop Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson & the rest of the team that seems hungrier than ever to defend their NBA Championship.
In our NBA Finals previews, we talked about how we thought LeBron James was going to have a relatively easy time going against the Warriors’ forwards, yet the only one he may have a problem with is Draymond Green. Not only is Green giving him a problem, but Andre Iguodala has played some tremendous defense on James throughout the series. Both of the guys working on James helped in LeBron having seven turnovers last night. The defense on LeBron also helped to snap James’ streak of 254 straight playoff games with over 20 points. He had a solid stat line in terms of having the 19 points, 9 rebounds & 8 assists, but those stats were happy & did nothing for the Cavs after about midway through the third quarter.
While James has been locked down in terms of his overall effectiveness on the court, the Cavs have not helped out at all in terms of being the sparks on offense. Kyrie Irving is 12-36 from the field in the series & he and James combined are a dreadful 28-74 from the field. The other part of the big 3 combination was Kevin Love, and Love is playing like many people thought that he would – rough on defense & now might be out of Game 3 due taking an incidental elbow to the head during the second quarter of Game 2. Love came out for the third quarter, looked very out of it & disoriented on the bench & then headed to the back & was out for the rest of the game.
Yes, the Cavs played horrible, but we have to make sure we are giving great credit to the Golden State Warriors, who have effectively made the Big 3 of Cleveland basically useless all the way around. Not one player has made a significant impact on the series at all & we are seeing the rise of Draymond Green before our very eyes. Green is already one of the best defensive players & leaders in the NBA, but his offense in Game 2 made the series look as though it was wrapped up. Green had 28 points on 11-20 shooting & 5-8 from three-point range. Now, the Warriors have three guys that have to constantly be worried about at all times if Green continues to play with this level of confidence going forward. Green does have to gain more consistency with his shot, but if he is going to be left open the majority of the time because of the attention that has to be paid to Curry & Thompson – who both hit 4 three-pointers & were a combined 13-24 on Sunday night – Green has the opportunity to be the man that will be the one to throw the knockout punch in this series & help clinch the NBA Finals for the Warriors on Tuesday night.
This is sports & anything can happen, which is why we do believe that the Cavs will take a game in Cleveland during this series, but right now, Cleveland does not have an answer for the Warriors’ superior offensive game & having to pay attention and keep their head on a swivel so much to the point that the Cavs can’t focus on solid defensive assignments. Right now, LeBron & Kyrie are doing literally all of the heavy lifting & role players such as J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavadova & others are being rendered non-existent due to the excellent play of the Warriors bench including Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa & all of the sudden, the defensive monster Andrew Bogut, who had 4 blocks in the first quarter in Game 2.
In order to get back in the series for Game 3, they are going to have to go big and make it a bit of a nasty series, similar to what the Oklahoma City Thunder did in games 3 & 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals. They were able to speed up & slow down the pace as needed at different points of the series, never letting Golden State get into a rhythm. There may have to be some times when it might have to get a bit dirty & try to make Green gain technicals & test his overall patience, considering he is on the border for technical fouls right now due to his aggressiveness during the season & other technicals picked up throughout the NBA Playoffs up to this point. The experts put a lot of focus on Klay Thompson & Stephen Curry, but Green is the head of the snake that keeps the team functioning. Without Green’s energy, the Warriors are a completely different squad.
The Warriors don’t really have to make many adjustments right now – the only thing that they could do a bit better is get Curry more involved in the overall offense, but its clear that he has a lesser role right now because he is beat up & is pretty much running on fumes right now to get through the NBA Finals. What the Warriors may have to keep their eye on for Game 4 is the possibly of James moving to the power forward position, with Thompson possibly even moving to the 3 spot for defensive purposes & starting Timofey Mozgov at the 5. Thompson isn’t going to be an offensive threat at all, but as a 3 that could rebound & play solid defense, that could negate some of the Warriors’ speed & go the route where the Warriors do look a bit vulnerable – against teams that can play a bit bigger for a longer period of time.
No matter who the major factor is in Game 3, if the Cavs don’t win, that will be the series & possibly the end of a run in Cleveland with LeBron James.