For the last two years, Draymond Green has been described as the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors. Never has that label been more fitting than in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, when Green’s dynamic 28-point game pulled the Warriors out of a slow start and led the team to a 110-77 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“The manner they’re playing defense against our guards, Draymond’s going to be open all day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “So he’s a good 3-point shooter. We enjoy it when he gets that shot in rhythm, and he knocked them down tonight.”
Cleveland came out competitive, establishing a fast six-point first quarter lead. Turnovers were the story early. Golden State committed six of nine in the first quarter, resulting in eight Cavaliers points. After turning the ball over 17 times in Game 1, Cleveland was more attentive in Game 2, surrendering five in the first half and just one in the first 12 minutes.
“Well, tonight I thought we had a fantastic first quarter, but they were still making the tougher plays,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought they got to all the 50-50 balls. They were tougher than us and more competitive.”
Cleveland couldn’t take advantage, despite Golden State providing an early opening. Andrew Bogut picked up four blocks in his first eight minutes, spearheading a strong defensive effort.
In the third quarter, the game started to unravel. The Warriors gave Cleveland another opening when Curry went out minutes into the third quarter with his fourth foul. This time, Klay Thompson was there to fill the emptiness. After shooting 3 of 9 in the first half, Thompson knocked down three of his four shots, including a pair of 3 pointers, to help the Warriors push the lead to 20 after three, effectively putting the game out of reach.
On Sunday, Leandro Barbosa chipped in 10 after scoring 11 points in Game 1. Andre Iguodala (seven points) and Shaun Livingston (seven) were also successful. The Warriors’ motion-based offense was sharp, racking up 26 assists while the team joined on 54.3 percent of its shot attempts.
“I have lots of empathy for bench players having been one myself,” Kerr said. “It’s a challenging job to stay prepared and sometimes not play. We’ve got a group of actual pros on the bench. Guys like Mo Speights, who hasn’t been played this series so far because of matchups, but he always stays prepared. Barbosa, Livingston, obviously Andre is among the best players in the league when we bring him off the bench. So we’ve got an extremely professional group. They stay ready, and we’re blessed to be versatile and have a lot of options at our disposal, and our men all stay ready for when they get their name called.”
James’ stat line was solid (19 points, nine assists, eight rebounds), but the former MVP got little help and had seven turnovers.
“I got myself in lots of trouble tonight personally,” James said. “Turned the ball over an excessive amount. And I said after Game 1 we just can’t turn the ball over against a great team and expect to win, and I had basically half of the turnovers.”
Once again, the Cavaliers went to an isolation-significant offense, looking like a team terrified to move the ball against Golden State’s long, changing defense.
“We understand we are going home. We must play better. The men aren’t discouraged. More pissed off than anything. But we’ve got to be tougher. That is the big thing for us. We have got to be tougher, got to play more physical, then live with the results.”
While the Cavs are one urgently hunting for answers, two games into the Finals and Golden State looks like one of the finest teams in NBA history.