OAKLAND — Statement game.
The statement went like this: “Forget all the controversy in Game 1. We’re taking this out of the realm of controversy and away from the officials, taking it into our own hands. We’re the Warriors. We simply are the better team.”
They trounced the Cleveland Cavaliers 122-103 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, and now hold a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series. Game 2 didn’t come down to one call or one mistake, like Game 1. The Warriors overwhelmed Cleveland, shot 57.3 percent from the field and made 15 3s. Stephen Curry made nine 3s by himself — a record for an NBA Finals game. He finished with 33 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Remember, Curry had been hurt. He missed almost six weeks with a sprained left MCL, and hadn’t seemed 100 percent healthy since he returned during the Western Conference semifinal against the New Orleans Pelicans.
But, Curry seemed 100 percent healthy Sunday night. He left the crowd and the Cavaliers in awe.
“The looks on their faces when he hit some of the shots,” Draymond Green said. “It was like dagger after dagger. Played great defense, and he pulled up and hit a 3 in your face. You definitely notice the effect that it has on the opposing team.”
LeBron James noticed, too. “Every shot he takes that goes in, he has the business of making,” James said. “That’s what he does. We shouldn’t be surprised or deflated. Take the ball out. Move forward.”
Curry wasn’t the only Warrior who played extremely well. Kevin Durant shot 10 for 14, and finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. And Klay Thompson shot 8 for 13, and finished with 20 points, all while playing with a high left ankle sprain. In total, five Warriors scored in double figures.
Andre Iguodala did not play — he missed his sixth game in a row with a bone bruise in his left knee. “I’m optimistic Andre will play at some point in the series,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said before the game. “But, there’s no way of knowing for sure at this point.”
Without Iguodala, Kerr started center JaVale McGee in Game 2. “The pace he brings and the energy he brings is important for us,” Kerr said. “He helped us get off to a good start.”
Particularly on defense. With McGee standing under the basket waiting to block shots, James was unusually passive during the first quarter. He hardly drove, and took only two of the Cavaliers’ first 15 shots.
McGee helped the Warriors’ offense, too — he scored 12 points in 17 minutes. And during the first quarter, the Warriors made their first seven shots from the field with McGee on the floor. Six of those shots were wide open looks at the rim. The Warriors scored 22 of their 32 first-quarter points in the paint, while the Cavaliers simply conceded layup after layup. They seemed confused or disinterested or both.
And yet, the Cavaliers trailed by only four points after the first quarter. They kept themselves in the game by outrebounding the Warriors on the offensive glass 4 to 1, and outscoring them 6-0 at the free-throw line during the opening period.