The big stat entering Game 2 was that LeBron James had won the second game of nine consecutive playoff series dating to 2009.
The Warriors made sure that streak ended Sunday evening.
Golden State trounced James and the Cavaliers 110-77, starting with a second quarter that included a 17-2 Golden State run, and 12 points from Draymond Green in the quarter.
Green explained how Golden State managed such a prolific run:
“We really stayed poised. We were up for a minute, and then they went on that run and started the second quarter, and everybody kept their poise. We continued to trust the offense, and we started to lock back down on the defensive end. Once we did that, we were able to get a couple of run-outs, our guys hit a couple of threes and we just continued to move the basketball and continued to move bodies.”
Cleveland appeared helpless from two minutes into the second frame, as the Warriors got things going when Klay Thompson sunk a deep three, and Green nicked James on a bad pass, which preceded a running dunk by Shaun Livingston.
The big run continued with a dunk from Harrison Barnes, a mid-range turnaround from Thompson, and back-to-back 26-foot three pointers on behalf of Green.
Cleveland managed only two points in five minutes, both of which came when James earned a trip to the free throw stripe.
“It’s a great feeling. Obviously, to have our crowd involved, and we’re on a run. We feed off their energy. So when they get loud and all of a sudden you hit a shot, it makes the defensive end a little easier. The defensive end gets a little easier, obviously offense becomes a little easier.”
James accounted for 14 of the Cavaliers’ 23 second-quarter points, with 10 of the 14 coming in the final four minutes of the first half.
The Warriors kept the stretch of dominance going into the third quarter, too, ending the frame with a 20-point lead.
James’ post-game press conference was less callous than the one that followed Game 1, answering every question thoroughly after being short-tempered Thursday night, and taking much of the loss on his shoulders following a game where he said he turned the ball over seven times.
James summed up the final three quarters:
“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.”
When the final quarter began, the Warriors were leading 82-62, and Oracle Arena was erupting in the patented “Waaarriorrss” chant, and Cleveland’s huddle only included a few players interested in what the coaches were drawing up, the majority of the roster sitting in their chairs.
Green, Thompson and Stephen Curry all scored in double figures, while James and Kyrie Irving combined for just 29. Curry scored 18 points, Thompson 17, and Green led all scorers with 28 points with seven boards and five assists.
Former Warriors forward Richard Jefferson was the only Cleveland bench player to score in double figures, with 12 points, and the rest of the Cavs bench combined for a meager five points prior to the fourth quarter garbage time.
The Cavaliers are looking very out-matched as the Warriors cruised for nearly three quarters for the second straight time, exerting their will while hosting a team used to playing weaker Eastern Conference teams.
The series does now head over to Cleveland, though, and it’s not out of the question the Cavaliers regain some steam on their home court and with the help of their local crowd. Cleveland was 33-8 at home during the regular season, compared to 24-17 record while traveling.
And the Warriors, of course, didn’t lose a home game until the season was halfway through, with seven of their nine regular season losses coming on the road.
Golden State coaches and players are well aware of the steely resolve necessary to close out a high stakes series, especially in a place like Cleveland, and just before Steve Kerr told reporters that the Western Conference Finals made the team stronger, the coach said:
“Well, it’s 2-0, so we did our job. We won our two home games. And, yeah, there is obviously a long way to go, so we’re not celebrating.”
“We haven’t won anything really. I mean, we took care of home court advantage, which is what we’re supposed to do. There’s still a lot of basketball left. How we show up in Cleveland will be a big test for us. They have a great home atmosphere, and obviously the way the first two games have gone, you would expect Cleveland to come out with a lot of energy and feed off of that home crowd. So I’m only worried about Game 3.”