Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made his return after missing 11 straight playoff games with the same back issues that sidelined him last season. Returning with Coach Kerr was the intensity that was missing from game one.
The nerves and rust were clearly there for both teams in game one, but game two got off to a fast start with both teams trading baskets early. But some things stayed the same as the Warriors took control with a 16-6 run in the last five minutes of the third quarter.
They would heat up even more from downtown in the fourth leading them to a 132-113 win and a 2-0 series lead over the Cavs.
The game changer was the Warriors Klay Thompson. Klay who had been struggling offensively found his stroke early in the first quarter. His hot shooting continued in the second half as he would finish with 22 points shooting 4-7 from three.
“I’ve had too many good nights shooting the ball to ever doubt myself,” said Thompson. “I’m getting there and I still have another level to get too,” he added.
He also kept up his great defensive play guarding Kyrie Irving who did not have the impact the Cavs needed from him. Although he would turn it on some in the fourth Kyrie finished with 19 points on 8-23 shooting which was not good enough in game two.
The Cavs clearly looked to up the tempo in game two and they started out with an early lead behind Kevin Love’s 4-4 from the field. LeBron was determined to get to the rim in the first half and it showed, as he would finish the half with 18 points and 10 assists.
The pace of game two is what we all expected in this series with two great offenses facing each other. For every run the Cavs made the Warriors had a response allowing them to lead the game at half by three 67-64.
“They put us on our heels and we were able to respond,” said coach Kerr.
Steph Curry and Kevin Durant played another great game, as both players would finish with 30 plus points. Durant who had a great game defensively finishing with five blocks, was hard to guard from inside and outside the three-point arc.
While Curry struggled early in the first half especially with turnovers as he had 8 of the Warriors 20 turnovers. But he was able to get to the free throw line 14 times, which helped him find his stroke in the second half as he finished with his first career playoff triple double (32 pts. 10 rebs. 10 ast.).
Although the turnover margin changed hands in game two with the Warriors giving up the ball 20 times leading to 23 points for the Cavs. The Warriors still found ways to respond to every run and keep their lead.
“We forced them to 20 turnovers and they still beat us pretty good,” said LeBron.
While LeBron and Love were able to produce for the Cavs they did not have much help. Kyrie struggled and besides Iman Shumpert who provided the great defense with three steals, the rest of the team was a no-show.
Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, Deron Williams combined for 10 points on 48 minutes and 3 of 14 shooting from the field. While J.R. Smith a huge part of the team’s Championship last year was in foul trouble all game and finished with zero points on two shots from the field.
The Cavs did many things well in this game; they scored more points in the paint (60-40), reversed the turnover margin (GSW 20-CLE 9), and also took more shots than the Warriors. But the Warriors made 10 more three-pointers than the Cavs (18-8), which was a huge part of the Warriors winning game two.
It is obvious the Cavs can make the needed adjustments to keep them in the game but they need to find a way to keep up with the Warriors from beyond the arc. Which means J.R. Smith needs to stay on the court and take better shots and Kyle Korver needs to make more of his attempts if they want to come back in this series.
Game 3 is set for Wednesday night in Cleveland where the Cavs will look to use the home crowd energy to get back in this series. While the Warriors look to continue their great shooting and defense to steal one on the road and take a commanding 3-0 lead.