LeBron James started Game 2 like he had no choice but to do everything for himself, his team, his franchise, and trying his best to make this his series. He bulldozed his way through Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and even knocked Draymond Green into 5 total fouls and just 25 total minutes. He sped up, turbocharged through the Warriors, and sent them The King’s best for a half. And the Cleveland Cavaliers trailed 67-64.
Then it became the Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant show. Durant dropped 33 points on just 13 makes, and Steph an even godlier 32 points on 7 makes. Durant accrued 5 blocks and took over Draymond’s role as the primary rim protector. Steph found Shaun Livingston on the break in a back-breaking 3rd quarter run that found the Cavalier lifeless under another avalanche. In all, he put together 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a triple-double to match LeBron James.
So no matter how many times LeBron puts his head down, barrels through an entire Warriors backline, he looks up on the other side just to see two guys charging right back at him. The best player in the world, and perhaps in basketball history, gave the greatest team in the world, and perhaps in basketball history, his best shot. By the third quarter, the tank was nearly empty. And the Warriors were just getting started.
The Cavs came into the game talking about sticking to their original game plan and playing to their strengths, which for the Warriors just happened to be theirs as well. The final score showed 132-113 but the final 4 minutes were garbage time again and if the Warriors wanted, the pace called for a 150-point finish in Games 3 or 4.
The scariest part was the hopelessness and humanity with which the Warriors have injected into what appeared to be an epic tilt between these two teams. It isn’t over yet. The Cavs go back home, the Warriors struggle in Game 3s, and they still have LeBron James. But there is a sense that no matter how great the Cavs play, and regardless of what they can do to slow down the Warriors, there are no answers for a question that now seems like a formality.
With a 2-0 lead and the Cavs now reaching desperation after starting the series as confident as defending champions can be, reality has sunk in. Perhaps you can expect Tristan Thompson to actually play in a slowed-down pace, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert to hit shots at home, and Kyrie Irving to finally show up to the series. But the Warriors just brought their head coach back, to another roaring Oracle crowd, finally got Klay Thompson’s shooting as a weapon, and still haven’t seen Draymond’s best on defense.
Last season’s double blowout to start the series saw the Warriors overwhelm LeBron James with a team effort. They countered with better play from their two scoring stars and wore down the Warriors in the next five games. This year’s 2-0 lead came with the elite play from two elite MVP players. Sustainability matters, and never more evident in his cat-chasing-yarn sequence against LeBron in a pivotal third quarter.
After an car on NOS effort from LeBron in the first half, all he could do is watch as Durant hit a 3 on one side, get a stop on the other, and have Steph slowly dribble up to sink a 29-foot 3 on the other side to close out the game at 121-99. The Warriors keep coming, and there might be nothing the Cavaliers can do to fully turn back this tide, for a long long time.