Cleveland 113, Golden State 132

3 things

1. HE makes it look so easy! Sorry, THEY make it look so easy! For the second time in as many games in this series the killer combo of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to a convincing win that extends their series lead to two games to none. Durant, building on his Game 1 masterpiece, continued his narrative of dominance against the Cavs. His feel for the game in this series thus far has been nothing short of otherworldly. And this is a pretty damned big deal given he has to share the court with a back to back MVP (more on him later) and his counterpart is widely regarded as the best basketball player on Earth (more on him later too).

In another masterpiece that will get replayed over and over and over again should they win (and rightfully so) Durant put together an outstanding line of 33 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists while shooting almost 60% from the floor and 50% from beyond the arc. Offensively he has been about as efficient as anyone could be for such a high usage player. However, as funny as it may sound it was his defense that truly caught my attention. Sure, he’s never been close to bad on that end but last night he dominated equally on both ends of the floor. KD tallied three steals and five blocks (that’s right FIVE), he roamed the floor disrupting passing lanes, altering shots and generally made life hard for anyone in a navy blue uniform last night. After game 1 there was the normal chatter about whether or not it was a fluke or this type of play is sustainable. All I have to say about that we have a finite amount of basketball left and as of now both times he’s seen the floor in these Finals he’s wrecked it.

It’s truly a testament to how excellent the Golden State Warriors are playing that a triple double performance from Stephen Curry could almost be seen as an afterthought. Nah I’m bullshitting, he was impressive as all hell. On a line of 32-10-11 Curry was the perfect jolt of excitement for the otherwise workmanlike approach of the rest of the Warriors (especially Durant). His shooting was particularly impressive (7 of 17 from the field and 4 of 11 from deep) but he more than made up for it by living at the charity stripe. Curry went a perfect 14 of 14 from the line hitting 10 of those in the first quarter alone setting the tone for how they would repeatedly out finesse the Cleveland defense all night.

2. Man y’all have no idea how happy I am to write the next few words but Y’ALL FORGOT ABOUT KLAY!!! Klay Thompson, who’s offensive struggles during the playoffs have been well documented here, finally had the superior two way performance that we’ve been waiting for. Thompson put up a very efficient 22 points on 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 7 from three. He also tallied 7 boards and continued to harass the hell out of Cleveland on D. This is just another example of how the Dubs come at you in waves. It’s bad enough that you have to worry about currently two of the top five guys in the league but they have dudes that can straight up kill you if you ain’t looking.

And you know, the rest of those dudes ain’t half bad either. Despite dealing with foul trouble due to catching three early Draymond Green chipped in 12-6-6 and was surprisingly effective on defense late. Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark put up 10 points a piece and Andre Iguodala put together a strong 5-4-5 in 28 minutes. So as the Warriors embark on their business trip they can do so riding high having taken care of business at home. But, i suppose that was the case last year also.

3. I’ll start by saying that I’m all too familiar with how the Finals unfolded last year. And yes I know that it started like this with Golden State taking the first two at home before Cleveland wrested control from them. With all of that said and acknowledged, there is serious cause for concern here. The Cavs are getting good to great performances from the guys they really needed from but they are falling short on the bench by far. And the defense has been nothing short of atrocious. I mean, getting beat on outlet passes? Allowing to have your defense shifted completely to one side leaving arguably the best shooter of all time wide assed open?

Look, no one had any misconceptions about the quality of Cleveland’s defense, we know they’re pretty damned awful. But one would figure that they knew that their usual M.O. of simply outscoring folks wasn’t going to work here. When you allow Golden State to shoot at splits of 50-40-90 as a team (which they totally did last night) you’re not doing yourself any favors Even more disconcerting is that no one in their camp has mentioned any major game plan changes to rectify the issues they have seen in the first two games. There’s sticking to what got you there but what if it flat out just doesn’t work?

However, LeBron James had another great night. Speaking of afterthoughts, it’s almost as if his 29-11-14 triple double didn’t happen. I guess when the stakes are that high anything but a win all but belongs in the footnotes. As impressive as it was (and honestly win or lose it was impressive) it seems like we saw shades of old LeBron that was all too content with taking long jumpers when another course of action would have been much more effective. But hey he finished 12 of 18 and I’m definitely not about to say the trouble is with him. Kevin Love, despite struggling from downtown had an impressive showing with his 27 and 7 smartly taking advantage of Green’s foul trouble to get to work.

Looks good right? Sure. Looks good enough to beat Golden State? Absolutely not. And this is where the rest of the guys come in. Kyrie Irving, who had been riding a bit of a hot streak into this series had a pretty rough one last night. He needed 23 shots to get his 19 points and only made one trip to the foul line. This is not the Kyrie that many teams have learned to fear. Tristan “Trash Gawd” Thompson-Kardashian once again played like his namesake only managing 8 and 4 in 21 minutes. The bench struggled again despite decent showings from Kyle Korver and Richard “The Geriatric” Jefferson scoring 8 and 7 respectively. The second unit as a whole once again shot poorly compiling 30 points but on 9 of 27 shooting. But this is what happens when you live by the three and die by the three. The Cavs shot 27% from downtown last night, far from the 41% they came into this series shooting. And worse it’s a combination of them not getting the looks they’re used to (you know because playing a good defense will alter your plans like that) and them blowing the few good looks they get. Well as my grandmother says, if what you got going ain’t working you best figure something else out.

H.B.

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