The fourth consecutive installment of the Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals is well under way and there is plenty to talk about after the first two games.
Golden State did what it was supposed to and that is protect home court. It took the Warriors overtime in Game 1 (more on that later) to edge out another phenomenal performance from LeBron James. Then in Game 2, Steph Curry set a new Finals record, the team shooting was on point and the Dubs won by double-figures.
Curry has been sensational in the first two games of this series. In Game one, he scored 29 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed six assists. Game 2, Steph brought it yet again, scoring 33 points and setting a new Finals record by connecting on nine three-pointers. He also added eight assists and seven rebounds.
In his last seven Finals games, dating back to last season, Curry is averaging 28 points, 9.1 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game to go along with 46 percent inside the arc and 42.3 percent from beyond it. If Curry continues to do what he’s doing, he will be the MVP of this series, unless of course you ask Oracle Arena.
In Game 1, the Cavaliers squandered away a golden opportunity and a chance to steal the game on the road. With 4.2 seconds left, George Hill stepped to the free throw line, down one, for two shots. After making the first, Hill then missed the second but it was rebounded by J.R. Smith, who made the biggest bone-head play of the entire season.
Smith seemingly thought Cleveland was up at the time he grabbed the ball, so he dribbled towards half court, then passed the ball to Hill who had his desperation heave blocked and overtime was forthcoming. This mental blunder wasted a 51/8/8 game from James.
When Smith went to the free throw line early in Game 2, the Golden State faithful started chanting “M-V-P” at due to the blunder of all blunders.
That is one of the all-time great performances in NBA Finals history, yet it went for nothing. For as great as James was in regulation, that was not the case in overtime, where he went 0-4 from the field and didn’t take his first shot attempt until half the time had expired.
In the Game 2 loss, James scored 29 points, had 13 assists and nine rebounds, but finished the game with a game-low -18 plus/minus.
It has two vastly different games for Kevin Durant. In Game 1, he dropped 26 points, but shot 8-22, including 1-7 from three-point range. He also seemed to not want any part of James, who put on an absolute clinic. Durant also seemed to have disappeared in the fourth quarter, something we aren’t accustomed to seeing from him. Game two was a different story.
Durant came out on fire, connecting on his first four shots. He finished the game with 26 points on 10-14 shooting, nine rebounds and seven assists. The Game 2 version of Durant is the one most people normally discuss and glamorize. It was a year ago that many, myself included, dubbed the league his, yet he has shown that he is not ready for that title.
Klay Thompson has done his thing, as always, scoring a total of 44 points in the first two games, shooting 8-18 from three-point land.
There is always talk about how James has virtually no help, yet there is someone who deserves a ton of credit and that someone is Kevin Love. Through the first two games of this series, Love has posted double-doubles with 21 points and 13 rebounds in Game 1 and then followed that up with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He is doing this thing, but unfortunately for the Cavs, the duo of James and Love likely won’t be enough to overtake the four All-Stars from the Warriors.
J.R. Smith has not been playing the best and Kyle Korver has been virtually MIA, which is somewhat puzzling. With Smith struggling so much, why not use Korver? After all, he is one of the most lethal snipers in the game.
Another player who deserves more credit is Shaun Livingston, who has scored 10 points in each game and has gone 9-9 from the field. He has kept the bench together and provided 33 quality minutes in the absence of Andre Iguodala, who has yet to play in the series with a leg injury.
Golden State isn’t in the clear just yet, but they are in great position to move one step closer to back-to-back NBA titles. If the Warriors are able to take at least one game in Cleveland, this series will be over in five, if it doesn’t end in four. James and company will look to get back on track on home turf, but it might already be too late for that.