Game 2 of this season’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers takes place tonight at the Oracle Arena.
Game 1 went to the Warriors after they defeated the Cavaliers 113-91 on Thursday night, with Kevin Durant being the top performer on the night after scoring 38 points with nine rebounds and eight assists after 38 minutes.
Golden State has a 1-0 lead in the series entering Game 2, just like they did last season when they met Cleveland in the Finals, so what happened in Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals?
A year ago, the Warriors entered Game 2 after defeating the Cavaliers 104-89 in Game 1 at the Oracle Arena. While Steph Curry and Klay Thompson didn’t exactly have good games with only 20 points each, Golden State’s bench thrived with Shaun Livingston scoring playoff-career high of 20 points.
Golden State continued their winning streak in Game 2 almost a year ago by defeating Cleveland 110-77 to take a 2-0 series lead. Combined with their victory from Game 1, the Warriors set a new Finals record with the highest winning margin in the first two Finals games with a 48-point differential.
This hadn’t been since the 1961 Boston Celtics and 1951 Rochester Royals managed a margin of victory through two games with 42 points during their Finals against the St Louis Hawks and New York Knicks respectively. This win also matched Warriors head coach Steve Kerr with Phil Jackson for most wins in a coach’s first 40 playoff games with 30.
Cleveland started off the game strong, taking a 28–22 lead about two minutes into the second quarter.
However, while Golden State was on a 20-2 run and outscoring the Cavs 30–16 in the rest of the half, Kevin Love suffered a head injury from Harrison Barnes while attempting to grab a defensive rebound.
He played for the remainder of the period but did not participate in the second half of the game. The Oracle Arena showed their appreciation for Love by clapping him off the court.
Draymond Green was the game’s top performer by its conclusion as he led all scorers with 28 points, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. Curry and Thompson added 18 and 17 points respectively, while also scoring four threes each.
LeBron James was the Cavaliers’ top performer with 19 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, but he also only 7-of-17 shooting and committed seven turnovers. Kyrie Irving only managed to score 10 points, and Richard Jefferson did come off the bench to score 12 as Love’s replacement, but his defense wasn’t good enough.
It was a rather humiliating night for Cleveland, as James said after the game, according to The Guardian: “They just beat us at every … we didn’t win anything. No points of the game did we beat them in anything. Even when we had an early lead, they beat us to 50-50 balls, they got extra possessions, they got extra tip-ins. They beat us pretty good tonight.”
Kerr praised his Golden State after the game, praising his defense for picking up the pieces after offense didn’t perform as well as it should have. He said: “Our defense was the key to everything tonight. Our offense was not very good. We had a lot of careless turnovers, but we had a good stretch there where we converted some stops into scores.
“I think Steph and Klay both hit threes during that time. Then of course we didn’t close the half very well. I think we went from up 15 to up 8 in the last two minutes. But that second-quarter stretch was important as was the third-quarter stretch after Steph picked up his fourth.
“But everything was about our defense tonight, and I was pleased with that, but we’ve got to get better offensively when we go to Cleveland for sure.”
It was a poor performance by the Cavaliers as, as a team, they shot only 35.4% from the field and an abysmal 22.7% from the three-point line. Little did they know that they would later turn the series around and win their first championship in team history.
Entering Game 2 this year, Cleveland is almost in the same situation as they were last season. Down in the series early after an abysmal performance facing off a team that truly looks unbeatable and has the record to match it. Maybe history could be repeating itself…