OAKLAND — Kevin Durant promised the Warriors could play better after their Game 1 blowout victory. Game 2 proved him right.
Golden State defeated Cleveland 132-113 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the Finals. All four Warriors All-Stars were clicking simultaneously and the results were devastating, with Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue pulling the plug while facing a 21-point deficit with nearly four minutes remaining.
Here are three quick thoughts off Sunday’s game:
• Offensive fireworks: Entering Game 2, Cleveland was steadfast in its desire to play a “track meet” against the league’s best offense. They were run off the court. Kevin Durant (33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists) was brilliant for the second straight game, and Stephen Curry played through some ugly turnovers to chip in the first postseason triple-double of his career (32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds).
But this time the Warriors’ two MVPs had help from Klay Thompson (22 points) and Draymond Green (12 points, six rebounds and six assists), who both struggled to find their outside shooting touch in Game 1. Thanks to seven combined threes from Thompson and Green, the Warriors hit 18 three-pointers, 10 more than the Cavaliers.
Golden State’s final tally of 132 points was the most scored in a Finals game since the 1987 Lakers poured in 141 points in a Game 2 win over the Celtics.
• Fired up LeBron James: James has a well-deserved reputation for making the necessary adjustments within a series and for willing his teams to road victories in the playoffs. On Sunday, he succeeded on the first count but still fell far short on the second. Showing a determination to put his head down and drive as often as possible, James noted his 18th career postseason triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists. He pushed the tempo relentlessly in the first half, tying his postseason career-high with the 14 assists and finding ways to the rim against Golden State’s smaller looks.
Still, his effort went for naught in the face of Golden State’s onslaught and continued offensive struggles for J.R. Smith (scoreless in 13 minutes) and limited contributions from Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver, Channing Frye and Deron Williams. James simply needs more help if Cleveland’s up-tempo strategy is going to have a prayer.
• Steve Kerr returns: Warriors head coach Steve Kerr returned to the bench for the first time since the first round of the postseason as he’s been dealing with ongoing health problems related to back surgery. Kerr, who said before the game that he made the decision to step in for assistant Mike Brown on Sunday morning, was greeted by the Oracle Crowd with a standing ovation, and he responded with a grateful wave.
With Durant playing so effectively on both ends, Kerr rode his All-Star forward for 40 minutes, his heaviest load so far this postseason. Golden State’s coaching staff also looked to counter the insertion of center Channing Frye into the lineup by playing small-ball lineups that could force him into unfavorable match-ups.
For Kerr, the victory surely comes with a sigh of relief. Brown had been undefeated in his absence, and a home loss in Kerr’s return could have developed into a distraction. Instead, Golden State remains a perfect 14-0 on the postseason and improved to +16.9 point differential, which will set an all-time record if maintained.