For the second straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers will return to Quicken Loans Arena in an 0-2 hole against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers fell into the 0-2 deficit with a 132-113 loss to the Warriors in Game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals, which was played in front of a capacity crowd of 19,596 raucous fans at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Sunday night.
Despite Cavaliers small forward LeBron James matching Los Angeles Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson for the most triple-doubles in NBA Finals history (eight), the Warriors set a new NBA record with their 14th straight postseason victory.
The Warriors have not lost since their three straight setbacks against the Cavaliers in Games 5-7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
The Warriors got double-digit scoring efforts from four of their five starters, as well as reserve point guard Shaun Livingston.
Small forward Kevin Durant (33 points, 13 rebounds) and point guard Stephen Curry (32, 10, 11 assists) led the way for Golden State. Shooting guard Klay Thompson tallied 22 points and despite foul trouble for the entire game, power forward Draymond Green added 12 points, nine of which came on three made three-pointers, to go along with six rebounds, six assists and one steal.
The Cavaliers got 29 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists, three steals and one blocked shot from James, as well as 27 and 19 points from power forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving, respectively.
The Cavaliers came out running and built an early advantage, but late turnovers, 10 free throws from Curry and timely three-point shooting staked the Warriors out to a 40-34 lead after the first quarter of Game 2 in front of the home fans.
The Cavaliers jumped out to a six-point lead on the strength of the transition game from James, which not only generated one-on-one drives to the basket from the veteran leader, but also, set up several teammates for uncontested looks.
However, after Cleveland’s initial burst, the Warriors went on a 10-2 run midway through the first quarter and stormed out to a 23-16 advantage with 5:24 to play in the period. A three-pointer from Green, layup from center Zaza Pachulia and floating jumper from Curry punctuated the run.
Because of the run, the Warriors never again trailed in the first quarter, but over the final five minutes, the Cavaliers held an 18-17 edge in scoring.
Dominated inside the key in Game 1, the Cavaliers outscored the Warriors, 18-12, in the paint in the first quarter, but were outpaced, 16-7, in fast-break opportunities over the first 12 minutes of play.
Consistently attacking the hoop off the dribble did wonders for the Cavaliers’ offense in the first half of Game 2. Despite Golden State’s timely makes from three-point range over the first half, the Cavaliers trailed the Warriors by just three points, 67-64, after the first 24 minutes of play.
The Cavaliers outscored the Warriors, 30-27, in the second quarter, and it was “The Big Three” of James, Irving and Love that ignited the offense when the triples were not falling for Cleveland.
James converted four of his five looks at the basket on the way to eight points in the quarter. He added five rebounds, one blocked shot and five assists, which gave him a double-double of points and assists over the first two quarters.
Love knocked down three of his five looks, and to go along with his six points, pulled down one rebound and stole one pass, while Irving added seven points, one steal and one playmaking pass without taking a break in the quarter.
The Cavaliers controlled the paint, 18-8, and improved in their transition game, besting the Warriors, 6-5, on the fast-break.
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 Curry and 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 James posted with his three field goals and two free throws in the period. Like James, 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.