Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals was competitive for the first 24 minutes. The Golden State Warriors had just wrapped up a productive second quarter, but only led 52-44 at the intermission.
Then the Warriors decided that they wanted this win to be easy. They jogged, nonchalantly, out of the tunnel of Oracle Arena, and threw the Cleveland Cavaliers into a fog of misery that had Clevelanders yearning for Indians baseball by the time the final buzzer sounded.
It was a thorough demolition Sunday night as the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 110-77 thrashing of the Cavs. I’ll be the first to admit that the Cavaliers put out a great team this year. The Big 3 of James, Love, and Irving has propelled them to the pinnacle of the NBA season. But even they can’t get past this Warrior team.
The Cavs head home now for two straight at QuickenLoans Arena, hoping that the cheers of the hometown faithful will lift them to two victories, thus evening the series.
One victory? Maybe. Two victories? Hell, no.
It would have been a great story from a sentimental standpoint. LeBron James, the hometown hero, the kid from Akron, was finally going to get the city of Cleveland the ring they’ve been waiting on since Jim Brown and the Browns fought their way to the NFL championship in 1964. Sure, he might have hopped town six years ago and won two rings with the Miami Heat. But all had been forgiven. This was the year it was all going to happen.
Not to be.
The Warriors are superior to the Cavaliers, any way you slice it. Just check out the box score from Game 2. If you don’t agree, perhaps LeBron James’ words will resonate with you:
“They just beat us…we didn’t win anything. At no point in the game did we win anything.” (from official NBA postgame press conference)
The Dubs made everything tonight. Draymond Green reminded us that he’s still capable of shooting the lights out, putting up 28 points to lead all scorers. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson still didn’t play their best games offensively, scoring 18 and 17 points respectively.
All the pre-series banter had fans believing that the Cavs were the better rebounding team. Not exactly, at least not this evening. Golden State outrebounded Cleveland 46-34 (Steph Curry led his team with 9!).
On the other side of the court, it was just ugly. James piled up seven turnovers. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 15 points, one assist, and six rebounds. And the biggest reason for that? Love left the game before halftime after getting hacked in the back of the head by Harrison Barnes. He’s on NBA concussion protocol as I write, and must pass the test before Game 3 on Wednesday night.
After just 48 minutes of basketball, I began to think differently about this Cavalier team. Was firing David Blatt really necessary? Was it detrimental to the team’s forward direction?
Of course, fixating on the past won’t get you anywhere, so let’s take a look at the present. Here and now. The Cleveland Cavaliers are bruised, battered, and down and out. Their 2-0 deficit will become an insurmountable 3-0 hole by the time all is said and done on Wednesday night.
Again, it’s a hell of a team in Cleveland. They’ll be back in the conversation next year, and likely for several years after. They’ll finally figure out a way to end the Cleveland sports drought that has carried on longer than the Cavaliers franchise. But this Warrior team didn’t go 73-9 because all the bounces just happened to go their way. They’re better than any team in the NBA, and right now, they’re better than the Cleveland Cavaliers in every facet of the game.