CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers built themselves into a championship team by playing with pace, hustling on defense and shooting well from three-point range, but all of those were noticeably absent over the first two games of the 2017 NBA Finals.
Because of that, the Cavaliers fell into the 0-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series with a 132-113 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of The Finals, which was played in front of a capacity crowd of 19,596 raucous fans at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Sunday night.
“Having awareness, can't relax, can't fall asleep,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “This team, their offense is constant movement, so you’ve got to be locked in. You can't take a peek somewhere and lose your man. They make you pay, and they have a lot of guys who can shoot the basketball, have a lot of guys who are great passers, so you’ve got to be alert at all times.”
Cleveland Cavaliers battle Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of 2017 NBA Finals
The Warriors turned a one-possession contest into a lopsided affair by outscoring the Cavaliers by 11 points in the third quarter.
Up by three points after the first half, the Warriors scored 35 over the next 12 minutes and built a 102-88 advantage after the third quarter of play, thanks in large part to the shooting of point guard Stephen Curry and small forward Kevin Durant.
Curry and Durant each knocked down three of their six looks from the field, with the two-time MVP guard burying a pair of three-pointers and hitting all four of his free-throw attempts on the way to a 12-point performance in the quarter.
Curry added seven rebounds, five assists and one steal in the third quarter.
Durant scored nine points, which matched the nine small forward LeBron James posted with his three field goals and two free throws in the period. Like James, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love tallied nine points on four-of-nine shooting, but hit only one of his three looks from three-point range in the third.
The Cavaliers knocked down just nine of their 26 attempts from the field in the third quarter.
“We weren’t able to get multiple stops,” Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson said. “I think our second unit, in the second quarter with LeBron and our shooters out there, they did a really good job.
“When Coach makes a sub, guys have to be ready and keep the pace going. It starts on the defensive end for us, with stops. When we play the Warriors, they’re moving the ball, a lot of action, so we have to be ready for that.”
The Warriors have not lost in the postseason since their three straight setbacks against the Cavaliers in Games 5-7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, and in doing so, set the league record for the most consecutive wins in the Playoffs (14).
The Warriors got double-digit scoring efforts from four of their five starters, led by 33 from Durant and a triple-double of 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists from Curry.
“I know that's easier said than done, but we had our chances to take control of the game, and we didn't do that,” Love said. “We're hoping that it's going to be a different story when we go home because at the end of the day, both teams play better at home.
“We know what we're capable of, going back to Cleveland and we have been in this position before, but we're plain and simple going to have to play better, especially against this team because both teams have gotten better.”