After Game 1, I wrote that Cleveland really missed its chance, as the Warriors wouldn’t feel the initial Finals nerves again and that it was likely the worst game all series they would get from Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Well, looks like I should stick to tennis predictions, because the Warriors did everything they could to hand Game 2 to the Cavs in a stunning 95-93 overtime defeat.
Game 2 certainly didn’t have an upset vibe early, as the Warriors asserted control, with Curry’s behind-the-back pass hitting Leandro Barbosa for an open transition three, eliciting a “Three ball, corner pocket!” call from Mark Jackson. That made it 20-12 Golden State, and though Cleveland tied it at the end of the first at 20, this appeared to be a game where the Warriors could survive playing an average game due to the incendiary spurts they have a couple times a game.
That outcome progressively became less likely as the night progressed. The Warriors’ offense was broken, saved only by Klay Thompson, who scored 20 of his team’s 45 points in the first half and finished with 34 on 14-28 from the floor. The Cavs continued to get dominant play from LeBron James and Timofey Mozgov, and they also got a boost from eight first-half points via James Jones to take a narrow two-point lead into the locker room.
The game stayed ugly in the second half, as the Cavs went 4-21 in the third, yet actually extended their lead by a point thanks to Golden State going 5-16, capped by Marreese Speights shanking a breakaway dunk in the final seconds of the quarter.
Despite the gaudy number of shot attempts (and misses), LeBron was fantastic and had his undermanned team in commanding position after he hit a three for an 83-72 advantage with just over three minutes remaining. The Warriors found themselves though for a couple minutes and received some fortuitous bounces that they took advantage of, culminating in Curry tying the game with eight seconds left. James was unable to score over multiple defenders at the rim in the final seconds, so again the two teams would head to overtime.
Golden State dug out of another deficit in overtime, rallying from five down to take the lead until Matthew Dellavedova, the hero of the night, drew a foul on an offensive rebound, hit both foul shots and then hounded Curry into an air ball on the ensuing possession. James would only split his free throws, but Curry capped his awful night by throwing away the final, somewhat last-ditch possession, ensuring yet another series where LeBron’s team wins on the road.
The Warriors had a chance to really put their foot down on the depleted Cavaliers, but instead gave one of their weakest performances of the year. LeBron was brilliant (39 points on 11-35 shooting, 16 boards, 11 assists), Mozgov was great and Dellavedova stepped up defensively…
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 8, 2015
…but it isn’t an insult to Cleveland to say it needed Golden State to play below its level to have a chance, and to the Cavaliers’ credit, they capitalized. Thompson sustained the Warriors’ stagnant offense and Andre Iguodala made James work for everything. Otherwise, this was a disappointing game all around for the Western Conference champions, led by Curry:
Steph's game 2 shot-chart. pic.twitter.com/Bk8Rf8q93N
— warriorsworld (@warriorsworld) June 8, 2015
Golden State has the capability to take both games in Cleveland and wrap it up in five, just as the Spurs did last year, but in all likelihood this comes back to the Bay knotted at 2-2. All postseason, the Warriors have responded in the face of adversity. Now they’ll have to do it on the sport’s biggest stage in the land of the King.